Norman Finkelstein’s disinformation about BDS

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
on 185 Comments

Norman Finkelstein continues to spread disinformation about BDS. In a new interview [1], by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Finkelstein repeated the accusation that “BDS is a cult,” this time in a measured and composed way, not as an “outburst”. Parenthetically, the interview itself, in its structure and the kind of questions asked and not asked, suggests that Finkelstein himself is  fashioning his own persona as a cult leader. But let’s get back to the specific accusation. Finkelstein claims that “[t]he movement is riddled with flagrant hypocrisy.” He offers three examples:

“a) a leader calls for the boycott of all Israeli universities while he himself studies at Tel Aviv University, (b) a leader claims that BDS doesn’t target individuals or an individual’s beliefs, only institutions, but he then calls for a ban on Daniel Barenboim, because Barenboim is a “Zionist,” c) BDS did not call for a ban on [the film] Five Broken Cameras although it was produced in conjunction with an official Israeli film society.”

None of these three examples represent any shred of hypocrisy.

1.

Finkelstein refers, strangely without mentioning the name, to Omar Barghouti, who is a citizen of Israel and a student at Tel Aviv University. One of the three demands of BDS is equality of Israel’s citizens. BDS is not a call for segregation, and obviously opposes the variety of measures used by Israeli universities to make Palestinian students feel unwelcome at Israeli universities and to reduce their enrollment numbers. Access to higher education is a fundamental civil right. We are fighting, among other things, so that more Palestinians in 48 Palestine can go to universities and study without being harassed, isolated, silenced, etc. It would be plainly counter-productive for Palestinians to assist Israel in the denial of their rights by giving them up on their own initiative. Precisely because BDS is not a cult, but a movement organized on principles of rational strategy, that no such demand for students to boycott themselves exists.

Indeed, there is likewise no BDS call for Israeli Jewish students to avoid studying at Israeli universities. The BDS call against Israeli universities is a call for world institutions and academics,  demanding that they sever institutional ties. Not only there are BDS adherents who are students at Israeli Universities, but there are some, like Koby Snitz and Anat Matar, who are professors there as well. To accuse students and professors of Israeli Universities of hypocrisy for supporting BDS is akin to demanding that workers picketing their employers must first quit their job in the name of “moral consistency.” It is plain silly. Omar Barghouti is calling for other institution to boycott the university where he is a student on the basis of a certain demands. That is perfectly legitimate.

With this accusation Finkelstein is belatedly joining a smear campaign launched against Barghouti in 2009. At the time, PACBI issued a statement clarifying why this smear campaign was wrong on every count, noting that

PACBI has never called upon Palestinian citizens of Israel and those who are compelled to carry Israeli identification documents, like Palestinian residents of occupied Jerusalem, to refrain from studying or teaching at those Israeli institutions. That would have been an absurd position, given the complete lack of alternatives available. Successive Israeli governments, committed to suppressing Palestinian national identity in their pursuit of maintaining Israel’s character as a racist state, have made every effort possible to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian university inside Israel. The only choice left to Palestinian students and academics in Israel, then, is to go to an Israeli university or leave their homeland to pursue their studies or academic careers abroad — often not possible due to financial or other compelling reasons. In fact, the Israeli authorities have consistently worked to strip Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem of their Israeli ID cards and thus their residency rights while they study abroad, thereby prohibiting them from returning.[2]

I find it hard to believe that Finkelstein is not aware of this statement, and either way, it is inexcusable that he ignores it.

 2. 

In 2010, PACBI issued an opinion that Bareboim’s WEDO orchestra was boycottable. This was a controversial question, because the case of WEDO and the role it plays politically is both marginal and complex, and there were conflicting views about it. The argument against WEDO, whether one agrees with it or not, was not about Barenboim’s opinions, or indeed about Barenboim at all, given that WEDO is an institution in which people other than Barenboim hold decision making positions. It was a question of whether WEDO as an institution meets the criteria of the cultural boycott that have been laid down over a year earlier. PACBI’s position was that it did:

Based on quotes from the Orchestra’s own programmatic statements, PACBI concluded that WEDO’s

…self-definition turns occupation and colonial oppression into a mere “problem” or “barrier”  to be discussed between “traditional rivals” who hope to settle their “differences” and build “bridges” of understanding through music and dialogue to encourage “listening to one another” and to set “a good example of democracy and civilized living.”  

By promoting this false symmetry or balance between the “two sides,” WEDO is indeed promoting normalization. The Divan refuses to even recognize, let alone oppose, Israel’s ethnic cleansing, occupation and system of racial discrimination as the root causes of the Arab-Israeli colonial conflict, sanitizing the very real oppressive reality on the ground with benign terms that are intended to project symmetry between oppressor and oppressed and moral parity between colonizer and colonized. This conforms to the definition of normalization, a term used across the Arab World, especially in Palestine, to describe joint Arab-Israeli projects that ignore or bypass the reality of oppression altogether, and/or fail to contribute to the struggle to end it, hence presenting to the world a deceptive image of “civilized” coexistence despite Israel’s patently uncivilized colonization and apartheid system.[3]

However one’s personal tolerance for political views than one deems offensive, a question of temperament , it is an undisputable  fact  that the PACBI boycott guidelines, on which the case against WEDO was made, do not cite Zionism, or any other held belief, as a ground for boycott. While Finkelstein feigns not to be aware of that, anybody with an internet browser can verify it.[4]

Finkelstein’s claim that Barenboim was boycotted for his “Zionism” repeats without attribution Mariam Said’s accusation against PACBI.[5] In claiming that the issue was Barenboim’s Zionism, Said paraphrased a PACBI statement to the Qatari government that is not available in electronic form. Therefore, I cannot say whether Said’s paraphrase has substance. It doesn’t bother Finkelstein to cite an unsubstantiated accusation, that PACBI subsequently denied, as if it were established fact. However, two more general points are worth making in that context.

First, even if Zionism isn’t the criterion for boycott, the question of where institutional agents stand politically is certainly within the scope of a useful analysis. For understanding better the political context in which this debate took place and Barenboim’s opinion were cited, I recommend reading Raymond Deane’s article about WEDO as an institution.[6] However, if indeed the original statement was not as clear on the grounds for boycott as PACBI’s subsequent clarification, the only conclusion one could draw from that legitimately would be one that every activist knows from experience. political positions, arguments and principles do not come down from heaven in a perfect state, but are constantly clarified and developed in the process of struggle itself. It is precisely because BDS is a political movement and not a cult that this is true of it.

Second, among all those who profess some kind of adherence to the BDS call there are, inevitably, different tendencies and interpretations. Part of the evolution of every political formation is a certain conflict within cooperation over those tendencies and interpretations. There are BDS supporters like Mariam Said and Virginia Tilley [7] who want relaxation of certain anti-normalization criteria. There are others who want boycott of all Israelis based on nationality. The 2006 case of the boycotting of Juliano Mer Khamis by some activists raised a storm [8] and was instrumental in building cohesion over the BDS attitude on Israeli artists. [9]  Mediating such conflicts creatively while building essential unity is part of the function of leadership, and the credibility of leadership is in large measure dependent of its ability to solve these contradictions in ways that are acknowledged by all parties as conducive for the movement’s shared goals. Of course, this does not always involve compromise. Sometimes, it also involves taking a clear stand against misguided attempts that would derail these goals if they were to gain the upper hand.

3.

The third accusation against PACBI, for failing to call for a boycott against the film Five Broken Cameras for being co-produced and co-directed with Israelis is the most bizarre.  I haven’t yet seen or studied the film, so what follows is preliminary. Obviously if an argument were advanced that a certain film should be boycotted, it would take some time to reach an informed decision, and Five Broken Cameras has barely been out. But on preliminary grounds, it seems quite obvious that the film is not boycottable for the exact same reason that WEDO is. The film is a work of resistance in itself, and a documentation of the resistance along the Apartheid Wall. Far from boycotting Israeli participation in Palestinian resistance, the BDS call “invite[s] conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace”. [10] The PACBI guidelines for cultural boycott specifies this exception clearly:  

All such events and projects that bring Palestinians and/or Arabs and Israelis together, unless the Israeli side is explicitly supportive of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and unless the project/event is framed within the explicit context of joint opposition to occupation and other forms of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, are strong candidates for boycott. (my emphasis)[11]

Criticism can sometimes be harsh and uncompromising and yet valuable. Therefore, I wouldn’t want to hold it against Finkelstein simply that he is very harsh in his stance. Yet I find it hard to belief that Finkelstein, who is known for reading everything and checking every un-dotted i and uncrossed t in what he reads, can be so egregiously unaware of the basic principles laid out by the people he criticizes.  By this stage, I find it unavoidable to conclude that Finkelstein is engaged in a politically motivated campaign of disinformation aimed at destroying BDS, rather than any form of conscientious, informed criticism of it. Anyone who gives him a podium or interviews him without being prepared to challenge him when he is simply making stuff up is effectively helping such a disinformation campaign.

II

I picked on these accusations because they were the most malicious. There is a lot more in the interview that I disagree with, and I would like to briefly refer to two more points about BDS being “like a cult.”

The movement functions in a cocoon world where the incantation of mantras – “BDS,”  “One State” and “Israeli Apartheid” – has replaced a political analysis of what’s possible and likely to reach a broad public.

It would be indeed a problem if that were so. Yet this is no more than one biased outsider’s impressionistic claim, backed with nothing. I’d rather be concrete with a counter example. BDS Switzerland, in which I am active, reached “a broad public” by two organized campaigns in the last year. In one, we got over 170 artists, including some of the most well known in the country, to join the cultural boycott on the basis of an explicit reference to the Right of Return.[12]  getting signatures was easier than expected and certainly does not back Finkelstein’s claim that the right of return is a non-starter with the public. In the second, we collected 12,000 signatures in front of supermarkets, calling the major chains to destock Israeli products. Our campaign pressured the largest local chain to begin labeling products as “produced in settlements.”[13] Although it was less than our full demand, it was an important achievement that raised and changed the tone of mainstream public debate. We constantly analyze the public arena in order to identify what is “politically possible.” We never had a discussion of “one state,” and we have no campaign advocating one state, regardless of our personal opinion regarding what is more or less desirable. While I won’t vouch for the political maturity of every group that launches a BDS campaign, it is my personal impression that my experience of BDS is more widespread than Finkelstein’s.

III

The last point is more abstract, but worthy of discussion because it feels like it has some theoretical and experiential plausibility. Finkelstein claims that

Self-proclaimed leaders of the BDS movement claim to speak in the name of “Palestinian civil society”  or “the Palestinian people,” although they have no basis to make such a claim.  They then use this fraudulent claim as a club to silence any opposition to their diktat;

The reason this seems to be valid is because political representation is a fraught, contested, and constructed process, often misrepresented in the media as well as the political culture in general as a straightforward and objective relation.  Thus, in liberal democracies, we have a number of institutions that function as representations of the populace, primarily through elections.  By this stage in history, many people are keenly aware of how problematic the representative claims of even legally organized representative functions such as parliaments, elected presidents, councils, etc. are. Yet it is hard to deny that officially elected “representatives,” however compromised, do carry a certain level of legitimacy that their draw from “representing” a people, faction, district, etc., through institutionalized elections.  Thus, on the one hand, it has become fashionable among some to reject any representational claim and insist that people only “speak for themselves.” On the other hand, the legitimacy of liberal democratic representation is often contrasted in the public discourse with the lack of legitimacy of radical challenges to the political system, protesters, occupations of public spaces, revolts, strikes, etc., who are not backed by elections. Together, these two widely shared ideas contribute to weigh against any form of effective popular resistance to power.

It is both this liberal institutional discourse, which is crumbling around us, and the individualistic, existential riposte, that Finkelstein invokes implicitly when he denies the BDS organizers in Palestine the right to speak in the name of the “Palestinian people.” In contrast, I would suggest an alternative conception of representation. To be active politically, that is, to make an intervention in the public realm regarding a collective choice, is inherently to claim representative status of the concerned public, either directly, or through a proxy reference (X is representative and I support X). Arguments about political claims are inherently invalid unless they represent a public as a collection of people with certain concerns that unite them behind that claim. Thus, it would be both impossible and inadmissible for anyone to make a political argument about Palestine without such an argument citing some representational power. Indeed, Finkelstein himself cites representational power when he defends his views as both widely supported by Palestinians and objectively in their interests.

The status of a political function as representative is always contested . For the same reason that a political claim cannot be effective without representing a “people”, the best counter claim against one is often the demolition of its claim to represent. An essential part therefore of making political claims is establishing representational power in practice. For popular challenges, such actions involve organizing people in a way that affirms the representational power of certain claims. Thus, for example, calling a strike builds representational power to the extent that people actually strike. In Switzerland, the act of collecting 12,000 signatures buttressed our claim that de-shelving  Israeli products is not the personal affectation of a few activists but a broadly shared public request that our petition legitimately represented. Elections are a mechanism construed for institutionalizing such representative claims. However, far from guaranteeing representation, liberal elections invariably create conditions in which representational claims can be advanced fraudulently more easily. BDS is not a party vying for elections, and the leadership of the BDS movement does not claim to represent Palestinians in a governing function. This, however, especially in the context of the failure of liberal democracy more broadly worldwide, cannot suffice to deny the claim of representation unless one accepts either that representation is impossible or that governing through elections are the sine qua non of political legitimacy.

It seems to me that the representational claims of BDS are essentially twofold, that the three demands of the BDS call represent the historical demands of the Palestinian people and are widely supported by Palestinians, and that the strategy of boycott, including an anti-normalization stance, is widely popular and widely perceived as appropriate. The test of these claims is not whether PACBI was elected or not or about how many Palestinians are hypothetically willing, as Finkelstein believes, to give up the right of return. The test is in actual organizing  in which support for these representational claims is established or contested in practice.

The 2005 BDS call, signed by over 170 organizations, including both Fatah and Hamas, is an example of a successful political organization that established precisely the claims of BDS to be representative of the Palestinian people.  The success in organizing the cultural boycott, including the success in denying boycott breakers platforms in Ramallah and other places in the Occupies Territories, even and indeed precisely because such actions require mobilizing people and building popular and public pressure on the undecided, are further proof of BDS’s legitimate representational claims. The absence of any Palestinian political force that calls for the renunciation of the Right of Return and the abandonment of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, as Finkelstein advocates, further buttresses the claim that the three BDS demands are indeed elements of national Palestinian consensus. It does not follow that there are no debates and disagreements. Debates about both goals and strategies have not ended, and the Boycott National Committee does not have the authority to settle these debates by declarative fiat. There are, for example, those who want a more relaxed boycott, and those, like Sari Nusseibeh, who are willing to give up the right of return. The question in such cases is not whether BDS is officially representing the Palestinian people, but which of the different positions has a better representational claim. This is, of course, a question to be decided by Palestinians themselves through political means, not by solidarity activists and outside intellectuals. Finkestein’s argument is fallacious when he deduces from the contested nature of representation and the non elected position of the BDS leadership that the set of imposed demands and principles they advocate does not represent  the Palestinian people. It does precisely to the extent  that Palestinians have effectively and with wide consensus organized around them.

This is not to say that the status of Palestinian leadership is resolved. There seems to be a widely shared sense of the need to rebuild institutions in order to restore the level of cohesion and authority that was lost with the demise of the PLO through the Oslo process.  In no way does the recognition of the need for better representational institutions justify the kind of blank dismissal advocated by Finkelstein. What Finkelstein advocates in practice is nothing other than undercutting and declawing of one of the most effective forms of Palestinian  organizing within the scope of the Palestine liberation struggle in recent years. No conscientious person should allow herself to be seduced by that.

The post originally appeared at jews sans frontieres.

Footnotes

1 http://www.cjpme.org/DisplayDocument.aspx?DocumentID=2306&SaveMode=0

2 http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=992

3 http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1196&key=WEDO

4 http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1047

5 http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11138.shtml

6 http://www.irishleftreview.org/2009/12/09/utopia-alibi-barenboim-divan-orchestra/

7 http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.ch/2012/02/this-time-he-went-too-far-virginia.html

8 http://electronicintifada.net/content/boycotting-myself/6468

9 http://electronicintifada.net/content/palestinian-filmmakers-respond-support-cultural-boycott/672

10 http://www.bdsmovement.net/call

11 http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1047

12 http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1763

13 http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/news/economy-of-the-occupation/4446-bds-switzlerland-migros-decision-to-label-settlement-products-welcome-but-insufficient.html

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185 Responses

  1. chris_k
    July 7, 2012, 9:54 am

    Both Finkelstein and Tony Kushner spoke out against BDS after they were punished within academia, Kushner being more gracious about it. But I wonder if that has an effect. Clearly the people who do the blackballing in academia intend this effect.

    Is there a book about American academia and the Israel lobby? There should be, and such a book should have a website for people to come foreward with their stories.

    • Danaa
      July 7, 2012, 12:43 pm

      Writing such a book – or just an essay – while still being in academia is tantamount to professional suicide. Even tenure is no saver from the wrath of the mafioso that haunt the corridors of intellectual bastions – large and small. However, there are many who are either retired or comfortably enconced within tenury. Even so, once you have the mark of the beast it means anyone can set upon you. It is a very difficult place to be in and one that only the bravest of hearts can tackle.

      And did I mention that the mafia spares no one? that one’s family is free game? one’s associates? funding sources?

      I think what we really need is a Wikileaks for academia. Were there such a thing, the floodgates might reveal much that has not seen the light of day.

      Whenever I start weakening in my conviction of just how utterly evil and ruthless a certain lobby and minions can be, all I need to do is conjure the image of The Dersh and The Schumer (no academic be he) defending – and even promoting – the burning of children with white phosphorous and the bombing of zoo animals and chicken farms. People who condone that can frankly do anything and justify anything. Hounding a poor academic or two is chicken game to them. A stroll in the park.

      • biorabbi
        July 8, 2012, 2:47 pm

        Burning of Palestinian children, gouging their eyes out, raping their woman. Israel/Cast Lead or Syria today?

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 9, 2012, 4:33 am

        “Burning of Palestinian children, gouging their eyes out, raping their woman. Israel/Cast Lead or Syria today?”
        Israel has no time for detail trading. Everybody, men, women, children, elderly, cats and dogs are buried under tons of rubble, WHOLESALE.

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 9, 2012, 4:48 am

        Should I link to some photos from Al Dahiyeh for your enlightenment, rabbi?

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 9, 2012, 7:13 am

        Or Qana 1 and 2

      • Mooser
        July 10, 2012, 2:14 pm

        “Burning of Palestinian children, gouging their eyes out, raping their woman. Israel/Cast Lead or Syria today?”

        Can we stop all this bargaining and get to the main point. Israel hasn’t gassed anybody yet! How can anybody criticise a country which hasn’t gassed anybody or dropped an atomic bomb? There you go, biorabbi, it’ll be years till you have to think of a new rationalisation.

        BTW “biorabbi” when are you going to make it clear, be honest about the fact that you are not, in fact, a Rabbi? Do you like parading under false pretenses?

      • ColinWright
        July 11, 2012, 4:12 am

        …Then I reckon we should stop our support of Syria as well.

        How much you think we should cut their military appropriation by? Maybe we should invite Assad to Washington to address Congress and not give him even one standing ovation?

        What did you have in mind?

    • ColinWright
      July 7, 2012, 1:24 pm

      “…Is there a book about American academia and the Israel lobby? There should be, and such a book should have a website for people to come foreward with their stories…”

      There certainly something to that. The experiences of the author of “Facts on the Ground” — not to mention those of Finkelstein himself — make it clear that anyone in academia without tenure who dares to criticize Israel does so at his own peril.

      One wonders about the chilling effect. There must be all kinds of lecturers and things who have had critical thoughts about Israel — and have realized it might be best to either not say anything at all or at least to take the sharp edges off their remarks.

    • Eric
      July 7, 2012, 4:15 pm

      Finkelstein is tired of being “Goldstoned” and wants back into the good graces of the Tribe while he’s still young enough to enjoy tenure somewhere. Like any enterprising person, he’s looking to improve his cashflow and upgrade his standing in “mainstream” society. Just as Chomsky is a closet Zionist who has profited handsomely from Pentagon/US military grants and consulting jobs for years. By day he pontificates social justice from his cushy MIT perch, then retreats to his lovely home in upscale Lexington, Mass. or the $1.2 million vacation property in Wellfleet on weekends. That’s a nice gig, and Finkelstein wants some of that action, which he can only attain by repenting and getting with the program.

    • Betsy
      July 14, 2012, 10:24 am

      @chris_k — very important points. Something should be done here (and I am not going to do it– got my hands full with Presbyterians, and getting them behind Palestinian cause). I’ve experienced this — but as a vague, hard to pin down force. I don’t think that the “Israel lobby” is adequate name (or that’s just part of the issue) — such a lobby is like the ravening thugs & hordes of Far Right Christian organizations, or Fossil Fuel industries, which circle “Red State” universities — these entities might have direct lines to Boards of Trustees & corporate crony networks, but WITHIN THE IVY WALLS many clueless people who wouldn’t think of themselves ideologically as part of whatever the “Israel lobby” is — enforce this — almost like a kind of decorum, a cultural propriety. It’s a quiet process — woven into cultural signals of social status systems (and crosses ethnic lines). One thinks about writing something (relatively mild in my case) — and people just say “don’t go there”. Or “remember Hannah”. Btw, I think the attack on Arendt functions more widely as a cautionary allegory for academics — then Finkelstein. I suspect that a lot of this is a paper tiger — if academics had any backbone — they could organize against this. But, Arendt noted in observing what went down in Germany — intellectuals & academics can cave to tyranny amazingly quickly — quicker she said than ordinary people. See p 92 in Maier-Katkin’s remarkable book STRANGER FROM ABROAD: HANNAH ARENDT, MARTIN HEIDEGGER, FRIENDSHIP AND FORGIVENESS, which I’m half way thro…

  2. Krauss
    July 7, 2012, 10:18 am

    Finkelstein’s rants against BDS is a lot more about his own psychology than anything else. On point after point he is being disproven. When Phil did an extended interview with him a while back, he was flagrantly applying double standards on Israel without knowing it himself.

    I consider myself in the MJ Rosenberg corner. I still favour a 2SS with just borders and proper security(for both sides) and a DMZ of sorts which the UN would keep.

    But does anyone seriously delude themselves a 2SS is possible any longer? Yesterday I wrote about the panel discussion that I viewed on Peres’ recent Pres. Conference. I was amazed to see the head of WINEP(AIPAC’s think tank) reduced to a begging state of his fellow Israelis to ‘please consider peace’. His proposal? Israel keeps 80 % of the settlers. Their reaction? Stone walled silence.

    Then speaker after speaker got up and slammed even ceding a single inch of land and the crowd roared. This wasn’t a Likud rally. This is the policy elite of Israel.
    When even AIPAC gets humiliated by the militarism of Israel, you know it’s finished.

    Norman ignores all this. Because if he wouldn’t, he would understand that he faces a choice. Either it’s Apartheid or it’s a secular democracy. One citizen – one vote. Regardless of race, sex, religion or creed.

    And he doesn’t want to be faced with that choice. So he invents a situation where peace is ‘just around the corner’. It is intellectual cowardice beyond comprehension.

    And then he slams BDS for being a ‘cult’ because they want to actually do something about the situation.

    I am surprised at this, to be honest. Norman was someone I used to consider fairly brave. But apparently when it comes to Israel he just freezes up. Maybe it’s too personal. Maybe deep down he can’t shake the ethnocentrism, even if he would never admit it.

    • Avi_G.
      July 7, 2012, 11:00 am

      I consider myself in the MJ Rosenberg corner. I still favour a 2SS with just borders and proper security(for both sides) and a DMZ of sorts which the UN would keep.

      DMZ?

      And that’s being realistic given the scarcity of land now with Israel gobbling all the strategic mountaintops and water resources in the occupied West Bank?

      That DMZ had better be 1 inch in width for otherwise it will result in a no-state solution.

      Bantustans galore.

      This guy wants to fit a DMZ in there somewhere.

    • Roya
      July 7, 2012, 5:13 pm

      @Krauss: Do you have a link to footage of that part of the conference?

    • Hostage
      July 8, 2012, 11:51 pm

      But does anyone seriously delude themselves a 2SS is possible any longer?

      Does anyone seriously delude themselves that Ismail Haniyeh is ready to ask for the right to vote in Israeli elections?

      There are plenty of UN member states, like Liechtenstein and San Moreno, with populations of fewer than 40,000 people. The only valid question is: Do the 1.6 million Palestinians living in Gaza agree that there is only one state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean – and does their opinion on that subject make any difference to the BSD movement?

      The only tangible manifestation of sovereignty is the exercise of jurisdiction. The de facto government of the Gaza Strip is still conducting public executions of persons convicted in its Courts of capital offenses, including the crime of collaboration with the neighboring government of Israel, e.g. See
      *Hamas to publicly execute ‘collaborators’ http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=267295
      *Hamas Executes 3 Palestinians in Gaza http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/world/middleeast/hamas-executes-3-palestinians-in-gaza.html.

      Some published estimates say that Hamas represents about one third of the Palestinian people. It’s simply inconceivable that a single, “effective” jurisdiction can be established in the midst of a belligerent community of that size and territorial scope, while the inhabitants are still actively participating in hostilities or armed resistance.

    • Sibiriak
      July 9, 2012, 4:36 am

      “But does anyone seriously delude themselves a 2SS is possible any longer?”

      Does anyone seriously delude themselves that a 1SS is possible any longer?

      The answer to both questions is obviously “yes”.

      Eg.

      anonymouscomments said:

      “[…]but if anyone showed me a practical path by which we could compel the nuclear armed, racist, and recognized state of Israel to EVER accept a just one state, then maybe I’d think it was feasible.

      As impossible as the long envisioned 2 state solution seems, I find arriving at the single state much more difficult, if not impossible given realpolitik (in my lifetime). And if we do end up with a single state, I’d bet money that it looks like WW2 Germany and involves a repeat of 1948. Not my idea of a single state, but many settlers and Lieberman might be very fond of this calamity.”

      “[…]a number of people here so easily bury the 2SS saying israel will never accept a real 1967 (or ~1967), viable 2SS. but at the same time they think that this will end in a 1SS inevitably… perhaps painfully and a long bloody time from now, but we will get there.

      i think this is absurdly optimistic thinking […]

      israel would CLEARLY ditch hebron and east jerusalem, and take a 2SS, if the only other option was a path whereby they would be stuck with a 1SS where the zionists leaders of israel essentially LOOSE their jewish majority (the end of israel as we know it, and the end of israel as they DEMAND it- jewish majority). they would, if forced, take a 2SS and let the people complain about the ’48 refugees (and ignore them).

      revisionist zionists, likud and many zionist ideologues have been very methodically working to kill the 2SS, and continue to try to kill it. >500,000 settlers are the testament to this effort.

      if we all want to deem it dead, they accomplished their goal. what great company to agree with. and they did not fail think about what they will do next after killing the 2SS. a global awakening and the growth of the movement for palestinian rights should not delude us into thinking we have more power and leverage than we ACTUALLY have, or ever WILL have. the balance of power on the ground, and in the global community is not so justice minded…. they have long been appeased with the idea of a 2SS, including many palestinians and palestinian leaders.

      i do not agree with what NF says, but i do think this issue needs to be teased out into 2 fundamentally different injustices, sadly with *different* hopes for amelioration-
      1) the ethnic cleansing of ’48
      2) the occupation and israeli expansionism

      some people almost seem eager to bury the 2SS because they think that such will, in time, spell the end of the ethnocentric jewish state. i just don’t see it, and i think if the *majority* of the movement becomes intransigent on the right of return, and shifts to a 1SS, we are doing exactly what they want…. and they will spin it. oh will they spin it.

      am i throwing the refugees under the bus? YES. but i want a token right of return and generous compensation. of course i *want* full right of return, but i’m a big fan of realpolitik. accepting an historic injustice in order to end another injustice. if the refugees do not get thrown under the bus, palestine will be thrown under the bus in time.

      this does not mean i disagree with refugees and activists and BDS calling for a full right of return. i would not denigrate or slander these people at all, as NF did. i often join in making those “demands”. but if this becomes a central and implacable demand, we won’t be seeing any palestinian state any time soon. if it is a bargaining chip to be used in order to help force israel’s hand, and allow an israeli leader to implement the 2SS? then it is pragmatic.

      i love it…. the 2SS is stridently deemed politically and practically dead, but zionists ending their ENTIRE ideological jewish state thing seems like the next logical option and more feasible? laughable.”

      And WillB said:

      “To my mind, the most compelling argument against the workability of a one-state solution is that Israel is a Spartan nuclear power whose populace can’t be persuaded to give up their Jewish majority state. BDS, international pressure, US threats to pull loan guarantees and cut off diplomatic support, etc. might convince Israel to make significant concessions to the Palestinians as part of a two-state settlement, but nothing short of sheer military force will get the Israelis to give up Israel qua Jewish majority polity.

      Even if this point is overstated, there seems to be an undeniable kernel of truth to it. Consequently, when advocates of a one-state settlement argue that intransigent religious zealots in the settlements render a two-state settlement unworkable, I wonder why they don’t think this applies a fortiori to plans for implementing a single secular or binational state in Palestine.”

      • Shingo
        July 9, 2012, 6:09 am

        Does anyone seriously delude themselves that a 1SS is possible any longer?

        Not only pssible but innevitable. Yes, it will probably look like WW2 Germany, and Israel’s supporters will justify it on the grounds that it’s better that the Palestinians are on the receiving end then the Jews.

        israel would CLEARLY ditch hebron and east jerusalem, and take a 2SS, if the only other option was a path whereby they would be stuck with a 1SS where the zionists leaders of israel essentially LOOSE their jewish majority

        How is that clear? The current path is leading to the outcome that you are suggesting Israel want to avoid – they’re just in denial. It seems your only argument is that we can’t be allowed to aknowledge that the 2ss is dead because this would mean the revisionist zionists win.

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 7:18 am

        Shingo:

        How will Israel be forced to annex the Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank and Gaza?

        My view is that nothing is inevitable, and the future is notoriously hard to predict–but it appears to me that neither a 2SS (based on adjusted 1967 borders) nor a 1SS is possible (well, anything is possible in a hundred years).

        I agree with Jeff Halper:

        http://www.newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2012/04/26/jeff-halper-interview-israel-palestine/

        ” (Area C of the West Bank) contains less than 5 per cent of the Palestinian population. In 1967 the Jordan valley contained about 250,000 people. Today it’s less than 50,000. So the Palestinians have either been driven out of the country, especially the middle class, or they have been driven to areas A and B. That’s where 96 or 97 per cent of them are. The Palestinian population has been brought down low enough, there is probably somewhere around 125,000 Palestinians in area C, so Israel could annex area C and give them full citizenship.

        Basically, Israel can absorb 125,000 Palestinians without upsetting the demographic balance. And then, what is the world going to say? It’s not apartheid, Israel has given them full citizenship. So I think Israel feels it could get away with that. No one cares about what’s happening in areas A and B. If they want to declare a state, they can…

        In other words, we’re finished. Israel is now from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, the Palestinians have been confined in areas A and B or in small enclaves in East Jerusalem, and that’s it.”

        That seems to me a realistic view of the situation.

        Still, the future is hard to predict, and if I had to say which is more likely (less unlikely), I’d say it was a 2SS solution. Here I follow Neve Gordon’s argument:

        http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/20/opinion/oe-gordon20

        “[…]The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state. For more than 42 years, Israel has controlled the land between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Within this region about 6 million Jews and close to 5 million Palestinians reside. Out of this population, 3.5 million Palestinians and almost half a million Jews live in the areas Israel occupied in 1967, and yet while these two groups live in the same area, they are subjected to totally different legal systems. The Palestinians are stateless and lack many of the most basic human rights. By sharp contrast, all Jews — whether they live in the occupied territories or in Israel — are citizens of the state of Israel.

        The question that keeps me up at night, both as a parent and as a citizen, is how to ensure that my two children as well as the children of my Palestinian neighbors do not grow up in an apartheid regime.

        There are only two moral ways of achieving this goal.

        The first is the one-state solution: offering citizenship to all Palestinians and thus establishing a bi-national democracy within the entire area controlled by Israel. Given the demographics, this would amount to the demise of Israel as a Jewish state; for most Israeli Jews, it is anathema.

        The second means of ending our apartheid is through the two-state solution, which entails Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders (with possible one-for-one land swaps), the division of Jerusalem, and a recognition of the Palestinian right of return with the stipulation that only a limited number of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return to Israel, while the rest can return to the new Palestinian state.

        Geographically, the one-state solution appears much more feasible because Jews and Palestinians are already totally enmeshed; indeed, “on the ground,” the one-state solution (in an apartheid manifestation) is a reality.

        Ideologically, the two-state solution is more realistic because fewer than 1% of Jews and only a minority of Palestinians support binationalism.

        For now, despite the concrete difficulties, it makes more sense to alter the geographic realities than the ideological ones. If at some future date the two peoples decide to share a state, they can do so, but currently this is not something they want.

        So if the two-state solution is the way to stop the apartheid state, then how does one achieve this goal?

        I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer. Over the last three decades, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have dramatically increased their numbers. The myth of the united Jerusalem has led to the creation of an apartheid city where Palestinians aren’t citizens and lack basic services. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost nonexistent, and Israeli politics are moving more and more to the extreme right.

        It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories.”

        Neve Gordon’s view seems very close to Finkelstein’s.

      • Shmuel
        July 9, 2012, 7:34 am

        Neve Gordon’s view seems very close to Finkelstein’s.

        So are the views of many BDS supporters (Gordon included). That’s not the issue.

        As for speculating with regard to the reasons behind NF’s recent pettiness, I’ll leave that to others. I’m just puzzled.

      • Shingo
        July 9, 2012, 8:31 am

        How will Israel be forced to annex the Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank and Gaza?

        Who said anything about annexing either one? Gaza has already been dealth with, and converted into a bantustan. Mission accomplished.

        As for the West Bank, there will come a point where the encroachment on Palestinian territory will lead to a humanitarian crisis. That future is not hard to predict, what is hard to predict is how it will all come unstuck.

        Israel could annex area C and then they will want area A and B anyway, which they will then slowly begin eating away. There’s no way they are going to give up Hebron. Holding Area C and stopping the movement of Palestinians into those areas is going to be a logistical nightmare.

        Israel will not withdraw to the 1967 borders. It simply won’t happen. The Israeli forces don’t have the man power or will to pull the settlers out of their homes and trasnport them back behind the 1967 borders.

        So if the two-state solution is the way to stop the apartheid state, then how does one achieve this goal?

        I am not saying it will, I am simply telling you that there is no way that a 2ss will ever emerge. The Palestinians are not going to settle for bantustans in area A and B, and nor will the world.

        It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure.

        I agree, but I don’t see that happenening either. The only future that looks likely is that the system in Israel will collapse. The US economy is going to hit an ice berg at some stage and sink. Europe will not be there to save Israel and as it becomes an economic ship wreck, the secular population will abandon it.

        Neve Gordon’s view seems very close to Finkelstein’s.

        To a degree and they are both pretty useless IMO. Finkelstein lives in a fantasy world where harping on about international law magically forces lawless states like Israel to correct the error of their ways and fall into line. Never Gordon is simply explaining the statu quo, not offering solutions, much like Fink.

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 8:56 am

        I don’t dispute your arguments against a 2SS (rough 1967 borders).

        What you haven’t explained is how a 1SS (not simply a defacto single state) will emerge.

        “Who said anything about annexing either one?>

        How will those areas then ever become part of a single state?

        “Gaza has already been dealth with, and converted into a bantustan.”

        Yes, exactly. So how then does it become part of a single state w/ Israel?

        “The Palestinians are not going to settle for bantustans in area A and B, and nor will the world. ”

        I’m not so sure.

        Is “the world” pushing now for Gaza (the “warehouse” model for areas A and B) to be absorbed into a single state with Israel? I don’t see that at all.

        Why would it be any different with areas A and B?

        As Halper says:

        ” Israel can absorb 125,000 Palestinians without upsetting the demographic balance. And then, what is the world going to say? It’s not apartheid, Israel has given them full citizenship.

        No one cares about what’s happening in areas A and B. If they want to declare a state, they can…”

        Assuming the Palestinians don’t succumb to despair and accept their enclave pseudo-state, what will they do? Would a violent –or non-violent–intifada be any more effective at that point than they were in the past?

        The situation at that point would be, despite the obvious similarities, crucially different than the South African scenario.

        Jeff Halper:

        http://www.counterpunch.org/2008/09/16/warehousing-palestinians/

        “Warehousing, then, is the best, if bleakest, term for what Israel is constructing for the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories. It is in many ways worse than the Bantustans of apartheid-era South Africa. The ten non-viable “homelands” established by South Africa for the black African majority on only 11% of the country’s land were, to be sure, a type of warehouse. They were intended to supply South Africa with cheap labor while relieving it of its black population, thus making possible a European dominated “democracy.”

        This is precisely what Israel is intending – its Palestinian Bantustan encompassing around 15% of historic Palestine – but with a crucial caveat: Palestinian workers will not be allowed into Israel. Having discovered a cheaper source of labor, some 300,000 foreign workers imported from China, the Philippines, Thailand, Rumania and West Africa, augmented by its own Arab, Mizrahi, Ethiopian, Russian and Eastern European citizens, Israel can afford to lock them out even while withholding from them a viable economy of their own with unfettered ties to the surrounding Arab countries. From every point of view, historically, culturally, politically and economically, the Palestinians have been defined as “surplus humanity;” nothing remains to do with them except warehousing, which the concerned international community appears willing to allow Israel to do.”

      • Shingo
        July 9, 2012, 9:44 am

        What you haven’t explained is how a 1SS (not simply a defacto single state) will emerge.

        You’re simply hanging your rebuttal on whether Israel wil ever declare it’s borders in the West Bank. Israeli maps of the region already designate all of it to be Israel. So really, it’s a disctinction without a difference.

        Is “the world” pushing now for Gaza (the “warehouse” model for areas A and B) to be absorbed into a single state with Israel?

        Gaza is clearly a very different prospect than areas A and B. The world has tolerated Gaza to some extent because at the very least, it has a coast line and a border with Egypt that could potentially provide it with some degree of self determination. The batustans that make up A&B will be completely isolated. Thus, they don’t even provide the theoretical freedom of momevement that Gaza could potentially have.

        The situation at that point would be, despite the obvious similarities, crucially different than the South African scenario.

        How so, apart from being infintely worse? What Jeff Halper has described would simply be intolerable and the Palestinians will most certainly turn to violence. The logistics involved in supplyiong those bantustans would consume all of Israel’s efforts as they certainly won’t be granting access to the UN to run supply routes.

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 11:48 am

        Well, again, I get from you no scenario on how all that is going to translate into a single, de jure, (democratic) state.

        Shingo says: “You’re simply hanging your rebuttal on whether Israel wil ever declare it’s borders in the West Bank.”

        No. I’m simply asking how you see a single-state coming into being. If Israel leaves Gaza and areas A and B outside its borders, by what process do you see those four territories being integrated legally into a single state?

        Shingo says: “Israeli maps of the region already designate all of it to be Israel. ”

        I’m not sure what maps you are referring to, but I find Neve Gordon’s descriptions of Israel’s intentions more convincing:

        Neve Gordon, the Occupation of Israel (p.215-216)

        “Not unlike Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the barrier aims to resolve the contradiction between Israel’s geographic and demographic aspirations. For years the demographic “threat” was kept at bay by denying the occupied Palestinians Israeli citizenship and subjecting them to military rule. Israel created a colonial regime in the West Bank (and Gaza) in order to sustain the Jewish majority within its borders, installing a dual legal system within a single territory, one system for Jews, the other for Palestinians. But the contradictions arising from the Israeli system had by zooz made it clear to many Israeli decision makers, even those on the far right, that the incongruence between Israel’s geographic and demographic ambitions had led to a political juncture whereby it seemed that Israel would have to choose between one of two options: continue maintaining a colonial regime or, conversely, give up the idea of a Jewish state. The barrier served as a third option.”

        “[…]Geographically and politically, the barrier does not resemble either one of the two traditional visions for peace: two national states side by side or one bi-national, secular polity.57 Instead, its objective is to enlarge Israel’s internationally recognized territory by annexing West Bank land, while creating self-governing enclaves for the Palestinians.

        Aside from the sixteen small enclaves mentioned above, the barrier’s route cuts the Palestinian territory up into and at least two (north/south WB) and perhaps four larger enclaves (the north is divided into three parts, north of Ariel, south of Ariel, and Jericho).

        Taking the Gaza Strip into account, it becomes clear that the future Palestinian “state” to be will be made up of three if not five main regions. Each of these regions will be closed off almost completely from each other.

        Israel will continue to effectively control all of the borders, so that it will be able to implement a hermetic closure whenever it wishes and in this way continue controlling the legitimate means of movement.

        What is new about the barrier is not the attempt to create closed enclaves in the OT, but the effort to transform these enclaves into quasi-independent entities that will ostensibly form a Palestinian state.

        The Gaza Strip provides a good indication of what will happen in the West Bank if Israel goes ahead and unilaterally withdraws from parts of the West Bank. Oren Yiftachel makes this point strikingly clear when he argues that Israel has entered a new phase in which it is restraining its expansionist impulse.

        Instead, it consolidates territorial gains by further Judaizing areas with a substantial Jewish presence, while ridding itself of the responsibility for the densely populated Palestinian areas and isolated Jewish settlements.”

        My research leads me to believe THAT is the Israeli plan–not, as some suggest, gobbling up the entire West Bank.

        Shingo says:”How so, apart from being infintely worse? ”

        Israel has no need of Palestinian labor. Big difference. Israel can annex what it wants, and leave the Palestinians in the enclaves that remain. And, as Neve Gordon points out, Israel will have a far greater ability to hermetically seal-off Palestinian areas.

        Shingo says: “What Jeff Halper has described would simply be intolerable and the Palestinians will most certainly turn to violence. ?

        Yes, perhaps, and then what? How will THAT violence lead to a the separation walls coming down and the creation of a single state incorporating Israel, Gaza and the West Bank?

        Shingo says: “The logistics involved in supplyiong those bantustans would consume all of Israel’s efforts as they certainly won’t be granting access to the UN to run supply routes.”

        I wouldn’t be so cocksure about that.

      • MHughes976
        July 9, 2012, 12:38 pm

        I too see no way of proving to myself that Israel has set itself any impossible task, since it can call on almost indefinitely great resources from many points to the West. The ‘bantustans’ (not that I really like SA apartheid imagery) will be set up and then one by one, from small to large, cleared of those who have no birthright. Harsh indeed – not that there will be any massacres; instead there will be rather minimal resettlement schemes – but a necessary consequence of claiming the great and rightful possession. Centuries may be needed but there are reserves of patience just as there are of materials. From our point of view I see little point in discussing better alternatives, since no better alternative will materialise within the foreseeable future.

    • Mooser
      July 10, 2012, 2:21 pm

      “I consider myself in the MJ Rosenberg corner. I still favour a 2SS with just borders and proper security(for both sides) and a DMZ of sorts which the UN would keep.”

      I appreciate the fact that you are honest about being a fervent Zionist. Thanks for not trying to obfuscate or fool us.
      Anyway, I’ve got a 100 yard spool of surveyor’s string and some wooden stakes. That should be enough to delineate the borders of the ‘second state’, and we can go on from there to decide how many gallons of water they need. However, I must say, Krauss, it’s very generous of you to offer to pay for the UN troops and equipment that will be necessary to protect the Israelis from the consequences of their own actions. You must be beau-coup rich, filthy with the stuff.

      • Hostage
        July 10, 2012, 5:36 pm

        “I consider myself in the MJ Rosenberg corner. I still favour a 2SS with just borders and proper security(for both sides) and a DMZ of sorts which the UN would keep.” . . . I appreciate the fact that you are honest about being a fervent Zionist. Thanks for not trying to obfuscate or fool us.

        I’m confused. The 1949 armistice agreements included DMZs. Israel unilaterally declared its sovereignty over them, claimed they were a closed zone to Arab cultivators, and took them over, lock stock and barrel. Resolution 242 called for withdrawal of Israel armed forces and the establishment of DMZs. So if we waive the DMZs, is Israel gonna be providing any “swaps” in exchange for the additional territory it acquired or not? Just checking.

  3. Dan Crowther
    July 7, 2012, 11:04 am

    Well, I remember seeing him speak last november and emailing phil about it. i said, “i think finkelstein has devolved into meaninglessness” and then subsequently wrote about it here, along with another critique from someone else.
    I got absolutely crushed on a couple threads for calling him a quasi zionist, and an under the radar ethnocentrist – but it looks like I was right. He’s still a tremendous scholar and source of information, but his new public persona just doesn’t work. He ended the speech I was at with a primal scream of “onward to victory” which I laughed out loud at. Just seemed so desperate.

    • Avi_G.
      July 7, 2012, 11:25 am

      but his new public persona just doesn’t work.

      That’s what happens when one becomes anachronistic. Instead of moving forward with his ‘base’, Finkelstein is on the path of alienating many and backpedaling to sometime around 1985.

    • Kathleen
      July 7, 2012, 11:31 am

      “I got absolutely crushed on a couple threads for calling him a quasi zionist, and an under the radar ethnocentrist – but it looks like I was right”

      A bit disturbing. Have so much respect for Finkelstein coming out on the side of justice decades ago. Always seems sincere. This latest “cult” claim does seem quite desperate.

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 4:46 am

        I agree about the “cult” terminology. Wrong and intemperate.

        Beyond that, all Finkelstein has done is put forward a strong argument in favor of a two-state solution, and in favor of BDS recognizing the existence of the Israeli state and international law regarding the Israeli state.

        I think those are important–and debatable– arguments.

        In any case, Finkelstein has not changed in terms of his attitude toward Zionism:

        “I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the theory of Zionism more than a quarter century ago, and settled accounts back then with it. I do not have to beat my breast now to show the world that I am not a Zionist. After many books, and not a small amount of troubles along the way, I think people have gotten the message.

        On the other hand, I am also not a fanatical anti-Zionist, if one conceives Zionism as wanting to preserve and develop Jewish-Hebrew culture (the strain with which Prof. Chomsky seems to identify). Each to his or her own, so long as it is tolerant of difference, and respectful of basic principles such as equality under the law.”

    • Charon
      July 9, 2012, 1:09 am

      I think devolved is the wrong way to look at it. This is a case of one person not seeing eye to eye with a group consensus. He’s been spot on with I/P and so much else. I think I sense confirmation bias for others and a lack of thinking objectively. The problem with a group think consensus is not everybody is going to agree with the group all the time because of us being individuals. The very fact that can divide a group. I have no idea how to solve such problems, I just live here dude.

    • Mooser
      July 10, 2012, 2:27 pm

      “I got absolutely crushed on a couple threads for calling him a quasi zionist”

      Oy Gevalt, you got your Zionists (of several types) and your anti-Zionists, but now there’s quasi-Zionists, crypto-Zionists, and (per Atzmon) the anti-Zionist Zionists. And are there Zionist anti-Zionists, too?
      Can anybody provide me with a taxonomy? Or will God just have to sort them out?

      • Mooser
        July 10, 2012, 2:29 pm

        Say, that reminds me, what do you call a hunchback who won’t admit he’s a Zionist?

      • Dan Crowther
        July 10, 2012, 5:57 pm

        mooser – you’ve said this before too. that there seems to be a internalization of the general zionist idea of jewish peoplehood, even among jews who claim not to be zionist. your boy atzmon i think would say anti-zionist zionists, in that they are repulsed by zionisms practical application, but share some of its root sentiments

  4. Liz18
    July 7, 2012, 11:44 am

    Finkelstein’s unfortunate move involving BDS suggests the deep primacy and mythology of the Jewish narrative. His refusal to own up to his own privilege was, at first, sad to me; now it is just pathetic, in the way that he is denying the Palestinian voice as legitimate. This type of superiority and “knowing what’s best” is a type of violence, and it would behoove Finkelstein to see his actions as such. It is rather maddening, and makes me want to say to him, “Hey, Norman, guess what, it’s not about you.”

    • biorabbi
      July 8, 2012, 2:53 pm

      Well said. I never thought Israel, Palestine, and the middle east was much about the tortured conscience of US Jews either promoting or condemning Israel. It’s not about Norm, Noam, Phil, or MJ. Well said.

      • Shingo
        July 8, 2012, 8:16 pm

        Jus like Israel was never about security for Jews or Jewish identity.

      • Mooser
        July 10, 2012, 2:33 pm

        “I never thought Israel, Palestine, and the middle east was much about the tortured conscience of US Jews either promoting or condemning Israel.”

        Why, when I think of how meaningless, how inconsequential, how irelevant US Jews are to Israel, Zionism and the Middle East, it makes me sick! Probably just the Gentiles blaming us for everything, as usual.
        Yup, that’s why they call you “biorabbi”; your posts compost into excuses for Zionism so darn fast. And you aren’t even a real Rabbi!

    • Sibiriak
      July 9, 2012, 5:41 am

      Liz18, just where and how is Finkelstein “denying the Palestinian voice as legitimate”???

    • Kathleen
      July 9, 2012, 10:25 pm

      How many Palestinians are involved with the BDS movement? Quite a few. Not about what Norman wants. And I do respect him

  5. chinese box
    July 7, 2012, 12:07 pm

    I almost wonder if he’s making these anti-BDS statements because he doesn’t like sharing the limelight with all the new thinkers/activists who have appeared on the scene in the last 5 or 10 years? For so many years long it was just him, Chomsky and Said on this issue.

    Having said that I’m not going to slam him because he’s certainly put his money where his mouth is on this issue over the years. He has a right to his opinion on BDS, but I think he’s just providing fodder for the hasbarists by making these types of statements.

    • Polly
      July 7, 2012, 12:59 pm

      Finkelstein is mounting arguments he himself would once have smashed to bits.

      The truth is if you if you could envisage an effective grassroots movement that might have a chance of bringing attention to the Palestinian plight – would it not look pretty much like the BDS movement we have.
      Would it not have holes in it? Would it not be prone to being too idealistic?
      This is what pisses me off, he is attacking the unavoidable pitfalls of such a movement – and since the BDS movement and Finkelstein himself have represented (recently at least) the only visible and well known game in town in this fight, his criticisms are hugely destructive.

      • Shingo
        July 8, 2012, 6:27 pm

        Finkelstein is mounting arguments he himself would once have smashed to bits.

        Very true. Not long ago he was arguign that right of return was for Palestinaisn themselves to deterimine. Today he calls is as a threat to destroy Israel.

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 3:54 am

        Finklestein has not backtracked on the issue of the right to return:

        “I should make clear, lest there be any misunderstanding whatsoever, that the Palestinian right of return is a universally validated right that must be supported (see my most recent statement on the subject at link to zocalopublicsquare.org). But there is a distinction between law and politics.
        […]
        The challenge is to work out a political solution once the legal right has been affirmed. “

      • Roya
        July 9, 2012, 4:44 am

        Sibiriak, I’m not quite understanding Finkelstein’s logic here. He supports going back to the ’67 borders and hence a 2 state solution, but he also supports a universal right of return? Palestinians were expelled from both inside and outside of the Green Line, so to reconcile a 2SS with a universal right of return means Palestinians expelled from lands that would still then constitute Israel would (a) have to live in what was originally their land, but under foreign, Israeli rule or (b) move to either the West Bank or Gaza, despite being from Haifa, the Negev, or the like, which would mean not really going back home. Can someone explain to me what appears to be latent hypocrisy?

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 6:06 am

        Roya, I’m not following you on the “latent hypocrisy”.

        You write: “Palestinians expelled from lands that would still then constitute Israel would (a) have to live in what was originally their land, but under foreign, Israeli rule…”

        Are you suggesting that a right of return involves a right of Palestinians to return to areas in Israel proper and NOT be under the jurisdiction of the Israeli state?

        In any case, as far as I can tell, Finkelstein supports the idea that the right of return must be recognized as a matter of law, but its implementation is a matter of politics, and that a 2SS would inevitably involve an agreement to restrict the actual number of returnees to the Israeli state in return for some kind of compensation.

        http://mondoweiss.net/2012/06/a-debate-about-the-two-state-solution-with-norman-finkelstein.html

        Finkelstein: “The challenge is to work out a political solution once the legal right has been affirmed. Hollow rhetoric won’t help: it requires mental and moral lucidity. The basic facts are these. Prospects for achieving a more or less reasonable settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict have never been better. The new regional configuration of power—in particular, Egypt and Turkey—will henceforth impose real constraints on Israel’s reflexive resort to brute force. International opinion has wearied of the conflict, and grown frustrated and impatient with Israel’s intransigence and bellicosity. Jewish opinion in the diaspora has also begun to distance itself from Israel.

        The principal challenges now are two-fold: for the Palestinians in the occupied territories to get their act together—something over which we have no control—and for the solidarity movement to get its act together. For our part, we need to articulate a goal that has real prospects of reaching a broad public; otherwise, it’s pointless, except as an exercise in moral posturing.

        My own judgment, based not just on reading dusty tomes and documents but also on three decades of experience testing in the wider world what works and what doesn’t, is that the most effective appeal is one grounded in international law. Because the legal consensus regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict is so broad and deep, Israel has no convincing answer to it. But one cannot invoke the law selectively, it must be embraced in its wholeness: two states based on the June 1967 border, and a just resolution of the refugee question based on the right of return and compensation.”

      • Hostage
        July 9, 2012, 2:37 pm

        Palestinians expelled from lands that would still then constitute Israel would (a) have to live in what was originally their land, but under foreign, Israeli rule or (b) move to either the West Bank or Gaza, despite being from Haifa, the Negev, or the like, which would mean not really going back home. Can someone explain to me what appears to be latent hypocrisy?

        Surely. President Calvin Coolidge said “If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.”

        Most refugees were not born in Israel and have never lived there. Even the ones who were originally from what is now considered Israel have a perfect right to opt-out of returning there under the explicit terms of UN General Assembly resolution 194(III) regarding compensation in lieu of return.

        Actual surveys of Palestinian refugees are rare, but the few that have been conducted indicate that 9 in 10 want compensation and have no desire to live among Zionists in Israel. http://972mag.com/interview-palestinian-pollster-says-statehood-declaration-may-be-abu-mazens-last-chance/

        The current PA officials have stated that all of the refugees will have the option of citizenship and taking-up residency in the new Palestinian state. For example, the current President of the State of Palestine was born in Safed, beyond the borders that he, himself has proposed for the new state of Palestine.

      • Roya
        July 9, 2012, 4:39 pm

        @Sibiriak “Are you suggesting that a right of return involves a right of Palestinians to return to areas in Israel proper and NOT be under the jurisdiction of the Israeli state?”
        No, I’m not suggesting this–that would be awkward and not feasible to implement. Let’s say that you are a Palestinian in the diaspora, originally from Haifa. Haifa, in the two state solution based on the ’67 borders, would be part of Israel. Assuming you wanted to exercise your right of return, you would have the option to (a) return to Haifa, your ancestral homeland. However, you would still have to live under foreign rule, in a foreign nation, speaking a foreign language. This is not a true “return.” And if instead you wanted to live under sovereign rule of your own people, you would have to choose (b), and relocate to Bethlehem for instance. This is not a true “return” either. You might call this a limited right of return, but not a full, universal right of return. That’s not to say that a universal right of return is bad or that a two-state solution is bad, but that in my view, the two are not compatible with each other.

      • Sibiriak
        July 10, 2012, 4:16 am

        Roya,

        You make some excellent points, and I can’t disagree with your conclusion that a right to a “true return” isn’t in the cards in any 2SS. Any realistic 2SS would involve a recognition of the ROR in principle, but NOT in practice. A political settlement would have to be reached involving compensation +restrictions on actual return, imo.

        Cf. Hostage’s comment above.

      • Mooser
        July 10, 2012, 2:35 pm

        “The truth is if you if you could envisage an effective grassroots movement that might have a chance of bringing attention to the Palestinian plight – would it not look pretty…”

        You are right, anything effective would not be pretty at all.

    • Sibiriak
      July 9, 2012, 5:37 am

      “I almost wonder if he’s making these anti-BDS statements because he doesn’t like sharing the limelight with all the new thinkers/activists who have appeared on the scene in the last 5 or 10 years.”

      That, or perhaps he is convinced that is arguments are logical and compelling.

      • tree
        July 9, 2012, 4:11 pm

        That, or perhaps he is convinced that is arguments are logical and compelling.

        Then why continue to call BDS a “cult”, which is neither logical nor compelling?

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 9:53 pm

        If you focus on that one word “cult” and ignore the rest of Finkelstein’s arguments, then you are being neither logical nor compelling, imo.

      • Shingo
        July 10, 2012, 4:11 am

        If you focus on that one word “cult” and ignore the rest of Finkelstein’s arguments, then you are being neither logical nor compelling, imo.

        Oh give it a rest Sibiriak. Aren’t you the one arguing that Israel could get way with annexing Area C and creatign bantustans and get way with not being regarded as an apartheid state?

        Where do you think Israel got the idea 0f bantustans ?

      • Sibiriak
        July 10, 2012, 4:53 am

        Nope. Never said that. Israel certainly would be regarded by many as an apartheid state.

        Israel IS an apartheid state, imo.

      • tree
        July 10, 2012, 10:51 am

        Given Finklestein’s latest response, in which he repeats his “cult” comment and adds the term “flunkies”, while mostly ignoring Gabriel Ash’s points, it seems Finkelstein himself is the one focusing on “one word”, or I guess its “two words” now.

        And you didn’t answer the question, you just avoided it:

        If Finkelstein feels his argument is so compelling and logical why does he feel the need to continue to call BDS a “cult”, which is neither logical nor compelling? If he thinks the argument is so compelling, then the argument alone is all that is needed, and the “cult” comment is totally at cross purposes to his argument.

      • Sibiriak
        July 10, 2012, 12:21 pm

        tree,

        I can’t speak for Finkelstein, but I’d say his remarks contain core logical/factual arguments peppered with some emotional rhetoric (hardly an uncommon phenomenon), and I don’t think
        the existence of the latter should be used to discredit the former.

        I’d also say he thinks the BDS movement DOES have some cultish qualities–and he may be right on that point, even if he needlessly exaggerates it.

        In any case, I agree that the “cult” comment is completely separable from his 2SS argument.

        He can be right on the 2SS argument etc. and wrong on the “cult” charge.

      • Sibiriak
        July 10, 2012, 12:32 pm

        tree,

        Where can I find Finkelstein’s latest response?

  6. Blake
    July 7, 2012, 1:13 pm

    A united cohesive front against the zionistas is what is needed here.

  7. Danaa
    July 7, 2012, 1:14 pm

    I did once think that Norman Finkelstein was a true prophet for the ages. That he had the heart of a lion and the angry countenance of one of the old prophets. But something happened to him in the past few years. Maybe age. May be fatigue. Maybe ambition gone stale. Maybe none of the above.

    I saw the interview with him on DN not long ago, and something disturbed me in Finkelstein’s demeanor. I think it was his attempts at a touch of mirth, that little smile that came up now and then, a tad forced, out of place. a smile I did not see before (yes I know he has sense of humor but it was a lot more sardonic once). I kept thinking of someone whose program has been tweaked – ever so slightly. It’s like he was being wound up now and then with a hidden spring. Like a Hunger Games stylist went to work on him whispering in his ear to add a “human touch”.

    I know people say he has been a sleeper zionist all along, or that deep at heart he is of the tribe, which yanked his chains when the time came. But that’s not how he used to talk and somehow I can’t believe there was a real change of heart either – the prophet turning into a pragmatist in his older age. If he were capable of such pragmatistm (a la the 2SS is all there is! hang unto it! don’t jump the shark!) he wouldn’t have been able to take on The Dersh as he once did. He would have compromised to keep his position at De Paul (and there were compromises open to him). Where was this great compromiser, this “realist”, 10 years ago, I ask?

    I know people like to bring reasonable arguments because we – who are not great believers – must hang onto reason for dear life. But I see something very disconcerting here, which I just can’t shake off, and appeals to pure reason, tribal heart strings and psychological profiling is just not enough to put my mind at ease.

    Maybe I should start a collection of the Goldstoned – see if there’s a pattern, a common thread (yes, I’ll put Chomsky in the sample. Also Chris Hedges, quite a few others). But something tells me maybe it’s not a good idea to embark on a scientific study here. I wonder what that something is.

    Then again, I wonder what has kept Blankfort pure all these years. I wonder what there is in store for Atzmon. Actually, I always wondered how and why did the old prophets stay alive for as long as some of them are reputed to be. Were they ever real?

    • notatall
      July 8, 2012, 7:21 am

      Danaa—I have long admired your postings on MW. I commend you for daring to refer by name to Blankfort and Atzmon, who have become non-persons here.

      • Eric
        July 8, 2012, 12:06 pm

        Blankfort and Atzmon are not non-persons to me. I admire their courage to forcefully speak the naked truth — without a grain of sugar or aspartame. Removing their voices from the liberation struggle only aids the status quo and gives the oppressors an easier ride, “intemperate” comments notwithstanding.

      • Roya
        July 8, 2012, 3:20 pm

        Eric, I second that.

      • ColinWright
        July 8, 2012, 9:15 pm

        ‘Removing their voices from the liberation struggle only aids the status quo and gives the oppressors an easier ride, “intemperate” comments notwithstanding.’

        Curiously, it can also be argued that adding their voices has that effect.

      • Kathleen
        July 9, 2012, 10:26 pm

        Too bad the Mondoweiss team banished Blankfort

      • biorabbi
        July 8, 2012, 2:57 pm

        Blankfort and Atzmon are like those old communists expunged in the dark room from all official Soviet photographs, expelled to the intellectual Gulag. Not to be jaundiced, but how are the sales of The Wandering Who?

      • Roya
        July 8, 2012, 8:25 pm

        I don’t know, biorabbi, why don’t you ask Atzmon himself at deLiberation.info? And you don’t sound jaundiced at all-you just happen to have a different opinion from the likes of Dr. Richard Falk, Dr. John Mearsheimer, Dr. Jean Bricmont, and Dr. Francis Boyle. Nothing wrong with that.

      • Mooser
        July 10, 2012, 2:43 pm

        “but how are the sales of The Wandering Who?”

        Very good, mostly among fans of rock-tour literature.
        Not a genre I favor, but there’s no accounting for taste. Nor for expenses on a rock tour either. But I don’t want to spoil the ending, just read the book.

      • Blake
        July 8, 2012, 5:22 pm

        I wish that weren’t so. We need a united front against the zionists.

    • Mooser
      July 10, 2012, 2:40 pm

      “I wonder what there is in store for Atzmon.”

      Oh you don’t have to wonder. Just click over to Tony Greenstein’s blog and scroll down a bit He’s got Atzmon’s rhetorical and political (to use a very generous definition) peregrinations (well, maybe “burrowing” is the mot-juste here) well covered.

  8. ColinWright
    July 7, 2012, 1:17 pm

    “…I find it unavoidable to conclude that Finkelstein is engaged in a politically motivated campaign of disinformation aimed at destroying BDS, rather than any form of conscientious, informed criticism of it…”

    I find it unable to avoid the suspicion that having been drummed out of academia, Finkelstein is trying to atone for his sins. He’s seeking to reinvent himself as a ‘balanced’ critic, and so win back that academic appointment that (at a guess) is vital to his sense of self-esteem.

    If so, what we are witnessing is an act of self-abasement, and it is more pathetic than outrageous. Well and thoroughly beaten, the whipped dog is whining and crawling to lick the boot of his master…

    However, I’d be inclined to leave him to it rather than pursue the issue. If there’s anything that would serve the interests of the Zionist entity, it’s some kind of prolonged cat-fight between people who are, after all, all still on record as critics of Israel. If Finkelstein wants to flame BDS, just sigh, answer his allegations, and otherwise ignore him as much as possible.

    • Miura
      July 8, 2012, 1:25 am

      I somehow doubt Finkelstein will ever own up to selling out:

      I’m occasionally asked whether I still consider myself a Marxist. Even if my “faith” had lapsed, I wouldn’t advertise it, not from shame at having been wrong (although admittedly this would be a factor) but rather from fear of arousing even a faint suspicion of opportunism. To borrow from the lingo of a former academic fad, if, in public life, the “signifier” is “I’m no longer a Marxist,” then the “signified” usually is, “I’m selling out.” No doubt one can, in light of further study and life experience, come to repudiate past convictions. One might also decide that youthful ideals, especially when the responsibilities of family kick in and the prospects for radical change dim while the certainty of one’s finitude sharpens, are too heavy a burden to bear…

      • Shingo
        July 8, 2012, 7:22 pm

        I am not going to get involved in the BDS vs Norman fight cause it’s pointless.

        I agree. I never looked to Chomsky and Fink as gurus so much as resources of information and data. In fact, I’ve sensed that they tend to base their conclusion on surpirious conclusions.

        Their reserach is enormously helpful, but thei conclusions have often left me cold. The whole theory about Israel being a tool of US empire and denying the enormous clout of the lobby, might have made for interesting debate simply doesn’t wash anymore.

        They have both been great resources. They still are.

    • Mooser
      July 10, 2012, 2:46 pm

      “Well and thoroughly beaten, the whipped dog is whining and crawling to lick the boot of his master…”

      Don’t try that with Dora, she’ll jump right at your throat. Believe me, I know, and of course, I love her for it.

  9. American
    July 7, 2012, 1:40 pm

    I am not going to get involved in the BDS vs Norman fight cause it’s pointless.
    But for sake of all he has done to expose the Holocaust Mafia for decades and paid for it with his career I think maybe everyone should consider that he is short changing BDS because he believes it might short change the UN and legal process —-that is actually, in the end, the only thing that will create a Palestine state.

    As I said before there is no reason for his opinon, which I think comes from the pure frustration of decades and decades of going at this, and BDS to be opposing each other….in so far as ending the Isr occupation goes. It’s just not worth fighting over. ..he’s not going to stop BDS and BDS isn’t going to stop him.

    • Rusty Pipes
      July 7, 2012, 6:00 pm

      maybe everyone should consider that he is short changing BDS because he believes it might short change the UN and legal process

      The two strategies do not have to be mutually exclusive. BDS is a people-powered movement. Regardless of how it affects Israel economically, it is an important means of raising awareness among average Americans about the everyday realities of occupied Palestine that they don’t hear about in the MSM. For this alone, Israel finds BDS an existential threat because it undermines Brand Israel.

      Pursuing Palestinian Human Rights through the UN and international courts is in the specialized realm of politicians and lawyers. It’s harder to know what average Americans can do to support that route — especially when our politicians are so focused on raising funds for re-election that they pay more attention to the concerns of major donors than those of other constituents. Even if one thinks that the path of international law is necessary for binding, enforceable change, attacking BDS is counterproductive.

      • American
        July 8, 2012, 12:31 pm

        I don’t think he should attack BDS either, I’m totally for BDS…..but I’m saying he can’t stop it, it’s here to stay….he doesn’t really have any influence in that area…..so creating some war with him over it is just giving anti BDS more space.
        Finkelstein has never been the go to guy for ‘the solution’..his value has been as the exposer.

      • Roya
        July 10, 2012, 7:14 pm

        Agreed, American, on everything except your conjecture as to why he opposes BDS. He has made his reason for opposing BDS clear: he thinks it will “destroy” Israel because BDS advocates universal right of return as one of its three goals. Apparently Finkelstein thinks that giving those forcibly expelled from their homes the opportunity to return is a bad thing.

      • Hostage
        July 11, 2012, 1:48 am

        Agreed, American, on everything except your conjecture as to why he opposes BDS. He has made his reason for opposing BDS clear: he thinks it will “destroy” Israel

        Correction: He supports BDS and the right of return. He simply says that the movement will not attract a mass public following if it takes no public position on Israel and pursues the single state solution and RoR. He points out the opposition will accuse the movement of trying to destroy Israel – and they sure as hell will.

      • Sibiriak
        July 11, 2012, 2:25 am

        Right, Hostage.

        Finkelstein’s position is complex, at times subtle and, arguably, logically consistent.

        It is noteworthy, though, that so many folks here attack a strawman caricature instead of his actual position.

      • Shingo
        July 11, 2012, 8:08 am

        It is noteworthy, though, that so many folks here attack a strawman caricature instead of his actual position.

        Referring to BDS proponents as a cult and flunkies is not a straw man?

        I think what everyone finds so insulting about Fink’s arguments, is that he expectes the BDS movement to jump through hoops to explicily cite international law and recognize Israel, while Israel has been defacating all over international law since 1948.

        He seems to be buying into the same rhetotic that the most pro Israle advocates have been arguing all along. No peace until you recognize us – while we are under no obligation to reciprocate.

      • Sibiriak
        July 11, 2012, 8:44 am

        “Referring to BDS proponents as a cult and flunkies is not a straw man?”

        Yeah, but responding to a stawman with another strawman doesn’t cut it though.

        “No peace until you recognize us – while we are under no obligation to reciprocate.”

        That’s not Finkelstein’s position. And you know it.

      • Hostage
        July 11, 2012, 2:38 pm

        I think what everyone finds so insulting about Fink’s arguments, is that he expectes the BDS movement to jump through hoops to explicily cite international law and recognize Israel, while Israel has been defacating all over international law since 1948.

        No, Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti pay non-stop lip service to international law without any coaching. But they avoid mentioning what it requires from them and the Palestinians.

        FYI, the Palestinians have been violating international laws since 1948 too. Article 10 of the 2003 Basic Law requires the Palestinian Authority to work without delay to become a party to the regional and international declarations and covenants that protect human rights. After the UNESCO vote, nothing at all prevents the PA from depositing accessions to the UN Human Rights conventions, but the issue has conveniently dropped-off everyone’s radar. Protesters were harassed during the Arab Spring, reporters have been arrested or intimidated, and prisoners have continued to report abuses and torture. So human rights in Palestine can’t be limited to mere concern over the misbehavior of the Israelis.

        A cult is just a small circle of individuals whose ideas are considered strange by outsiders. Neither Finkelstein nor Chomsky have ever accepted Israel as “the State of the Jewish people” or “the Jewish National Home”. They have both stated for the record that they support BDS, but think it is not being implemented in the most effective ways. So they are members of our small circle.

        What Finkelstein said, is that our ideas are considered strange by others and that he thinks we will never gather a mass following by rejecting the existing international consensus. Along that same line he recommends that we support efforts to enforce existing international law, which is something that the BDS movement actually serves to undermine by some of its words, deeds, and vague objectives.

        For example, the 2005 national call for action that established the BDS movement in the first place complained that the UN had failed to take action on the ICJ advisory opinion for more than one year. So let’s look at the action that it required from each of us. Judge Roslyn Higgins summed-up:

        This is not difficult – from Security Council resolution 242 (1967) through to Security Council resolution 1515 (2003), the key underlying requirements have remained the same – that Israel is entitled to exist, to be recognized, and to security, and that the Palestinian people are entitled to their territory, to exercise self-determination, and to have their own State.

        link to icj-cij.org

        But the BDS Movement has never recognized Israel’s right to exist. It has also withheld its endorsement of the declaration of the State of Palestine made by the representatives of the Palestinian people in 1988. So the movement has never recognized their right to have their own state, in their own territory.

        Instead, the leaders of the BDS movement have produced a slew of editorials about the dangers of the UN recognizing a Palestinian state inside those borders and some incoherent gibberish that says we take no position on Israel or the two state solution. Finkelstein points out that, those positions may sound clever inside our own small community, but that they don’t fool anyone else. I think he’s correct about that – and that’s what’s really pissing-off the guilty parties so much.

        Finkelstein notes that you really can’t advocate for the one state solution on the basis of the requirements outlined by the applicable international laws, UN resolutions, or the ICJ opinion. For example, if you watch Ali Abunimah’s speech at the Penn State Conference you’ll notice that the majority of his discussion is based upon certain aspects of international law. But he’s all show and no go when it comes to efforts by the State of Palestine to get its status recognized by the UN, so it can have those aspects of international law enforced. He really only uses international law as a stage prop for his political activism, not as a legal remedy.

        International law is the set of fundamental rules that states have adopted to govern their mutual relations. If a political entity is considered a non-state actor, many of the most important safeguards simply do not apply. The Israelis never get tired of pointing-out that fact to Palestinian political activists and they in-turn never get tired of playing the perpetual victims. Finkelstein says that after 30 years he doesn’t have time for that anymore. He’s right. Outside of our small circle, it is a very strange idea to suggest that Palestinian statehood poses increased risks or dangers tp the Palestinians. It threatens Israel and the United States. That’s why they pulled-out all of the stops and even resorted to blackmail and threats of unilateral annexation to derail the whole process.

        Strangely enough Omar Barghouti and Ali Abunimah give Zionists aid a comfort when they write about “the non-existent state of Palestine” or the dangers of UN recognition of the 1988 Declaration of the State of Palestine. The overwhelming majority of states have long since extended formal recognition on that basis. Other countries have always viewed Palestine as another state suffering under an illegal regime of foreign occupation and colonization.

        Finkelstein is simply saying that for now we should accept the international consensus. If you want to pursue a one state solution you’ll need to change a whole lot of people’s minds and the international consensus reflected in the ICJ legal opinion regarding what is, and is NOT, going to be an acceptable solution. Outside of a relatively small group of people, the idea that Israel is somehow going to cease to exist is considered a non-starter.

      • Shingo
        July 11, 2012, 6:05 pm

        Yeah, but responding to a stawman with another strawman doesn’t cut it though.

        Neither does calling BDS proponents flunkies.

        That’s not Finkelstein’s position. And you know it.

        So why does he leave out the part about Israel violating international law and refuse to produce a specific strategy on how to force Israel to adhere to international law? Fink has been talking about intenational law for decades and can cite no single example of Israel adhering to it. He can not point to a single victory or outcome that he has endorsed that has produced results.

        And yet, here is is, insulting those who are willing to try a new approach. That makes him a moral coward.

        Fink says he’s tired and fed up and wants results, yet all he is prescribing is a sit and wait approach. Like Chiomsky, he expects the free Palestine movement to sit and wait and as Dana said, wave sheets of useless paper in public while not one is paying attention.

      • Shingo
        July 11, 2012, 8:01 pm

        No, Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti pay non-stop lip service to international law without any coaching.

        Are Abunimah or Barghouti the leadesr of the BDS movement or just high profile supporters? It seems to me that attacking them is a dshoinest way of insisting that BDS has a secret agenda as opposed to taking the momevemt at it’s word.

        FYI, the Palestinians have been violating international laws since 1948 too.

        In what wasy does citing Article 10 of the 2003 Basic Law demonstrate that the Palestinians have been violating international laws since 1948? I do not dispute that you know a lot more about this stuff than I Hostage – but I don’t find your line of reasoning entierly convincing. And how does the PA’s failure to become a party to the regional and international declarations and covenants of protect human rights stand in the way of their membership bid? Has it damaged the memebership of any other human rights abusing state at the UN? Will the Palestinian become recongnized.

        Neither Finkelstein nor Chomsky have ever accepted Israel as “the State of the Jewish people” or “the Jewish National Home”.

        That’s not entirely clear with regard to Finkelstein. During the first interview in which he brought up the “cult” label, he referred to ROR as leading to the destruction of Israel. Now that suggests that Finkelstein has accepted Israel as a Jewsh state. They have said they support BDS, but are doing little to participate or guide it. By expressing such hyperbolic criticism of BDS< Fink has undermined it.

        What Finkelstein said, is that our ideas are considered strange by others and that he thinks we will never gather a mass following by rejecting the existing international consensus.

        That again seems rather vague because to people like myself, who don’t have the patience to parse every sentence Fink has ever uttered, it’s not clear if he in conflating international consensus with international law (asssuming they are not necessarily the same thing). So on one hand, he is demanding that the BDS momevemtn adhere meticulously to international law, while not insisting that ISrlae be forced to comply in case those demands are “considered strange”.

        But the BDS Movement has never recognized Israel’s right to exist. It has also withheld its endorsement of the declaration of the State of Palestine made by the representatives of the Palestinian people in 1988. So the movement has never recognized their right to have their own state, in their own territory.

        That’s a very strong argument, though I have yet to hear Fink make it. Nevertheless, just becasue BDS does not take a position on “Israel or the two state solution” doesn’t mean that BDS is failing. Perhaps I am reading the goalsd of BDS wrongly, but it strikes me as a movement that is focused on short terms objectves before a final negotiated settlement is made. While Abunimah is in favor of single state solution, it is dishonest of Fink to insist this is the default position of the BDS movement.

        Finkelstein is simply saying that for now we should accept the international consensus.

        And then what? Where does that get us? This is why so many people are flcokign to BDS, becasue Fink and Chomsky seem perfectly happy to point the finger at Israel while no one is paying any attention, but become incensed when movements like BDS try to take action.

      • Sibiriak
        July 12, 2012, 4:17 am

        Shingo: “…calling BDS proponents flunkies.”

        Not right, as far as I am concerned.

        Shingo: “So why does he leave out the part about Israel violating international law.”

        He doesn’t leave that out. Just the opposite. He constantly points out Israel’s violations of international law.

        Shingo: “…and refuse to produce a specific strategy on how to force Israel to adhere to international law? ”

        Finkelstein:

        “The only possibility for creating a real peace process, and not the sham of the past 20 years, is to mobilize the Palestinians’ most potent asset—i.e., the population itself—in a nonviolent grassroots struggle along the lines of the first intifada. The succession of practical victories won by the Palestinian hunger strikers (with relatively little concrete support from the Palestinian population) again demonstrated the efficacy of this strategy.

        B. The question then becomes, if and when such a grassroots movement takes flight, what will be its goal? Here I think the answer is practical-political, not abstract-moral. Even an invigorated grassroots movement cannot possibly succeed unless it wins the backing of international public opinion, both popular and governmental. In the absence of such broad public support, Israel will have carte blanche to crush Palestinian resistance, however nonviolent.”

        So, Finkelstein’s proposed strategy is a non-violent Palestinian uprising backed by international public opinion and governmental action, using various tactics –including boycotts, divestment and sanctions–with the goal of reaching a two state solution (based on international law, 1967 borders, with some land swaps, a recognized RoR, a negotiated settlement on refugees, etc.)

        That’s a far cry from a “sit and wait approach”.

        What’s your proposed strategy and goal?

      • Shingo
        July 12, 2012, 7:12 am

        So, Finkelstein’s proposed strategy is a non-violent Palestinian uprising backed by international public opinion and governmental action, using various tactics –including boycotts, divestment and sanctions–with the goal of reaching a two state solution (based on international law, 1967 borders, with some land swaps, a recognized RoR, a negotiated settlement on refugees, etc.)

        Which is pretty much what the Palestinians are doing. I can’t figure what has happened to Fink to be perfectly honest. It seems that he is on a quest to sabotage the good in pursuit of perfection.

        What is BDS if not a non-violent Palestinian uprising backed by international public opinion? It appears that the international public opinion it’s being won over and that appears to bother him the most – which is why he calls it a cult.

        If anything, BDS is less ambitious than what Fink is aiming for. FRom what I can see, BDS is simply aiming to improve the human rights situation for Palestinians even before a negotaated settlement is reached.

      • Hostage
        July 12, 2012, 11:12 am

        Are Abunimah or Barghouti the leadesr of the BDS movement or just high profile supporters? It seems to me that attacking them is a dshoinest way of insisting that BDS has a secret agenda as opposed to taking the momevemt at it’s word.

        Omar Barghouti is a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. So of course he is a leader of the BDS movement. He is the author of a multitude of articles on http://www.bdsmovement.net which respond to criticisms of the BDS movement, so he is an official spokesman too. bdsmovement.net also hosts Ali Abunimah’s response to Norman Finkelstien’s criticisms of “the BDS cult”. The article also contains a link to the One State Declaration, which as Abunimah points out, has been signed by many of the founders of the BDS movement. I don’t find the analogy to the Irish two state solution very persuasive, because there obviously aren’t 5 million UN-registered Irish refugees. http://www.bdsmovement.net/2012/finkelstein-bds-and-the-destruction-of-israel-8718

        In what way does citing Article 10 of the 2003 Basic Law demonstrate that the Palestinians have been violating international laws since 1948?

        I didn’t say that it did. The reports of the UN Truce Commission, Special Rapporteurs, and Fact Finding missions have always contained a catalog of information on Palestinian violations of international law, including serious war crimes and crimes against humanity.

        And how does the PA’s failure to become a party to the regional and international declarations and covenants of protect human rights stand in the way of their membership bid?

        I mentioned it because it’s an example of a double standard regarding protection of minorities. That’s an area Finkelstein addressed in the Barat interview. But since you’ve asked, the UN Charter does require prospective members to observe many fundamental human rights. If the members conclude that Palestine is either unwilling or unable to carry out those obligations, then they have all the excuse that they need to abstain or vote against admitting it as a member state in accordance with Article 4 of the Charter. http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter2.shtml

        FYI, the PLO, acting as the legal representative of the Palestinian people, signed Article XIX of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to which the Palestinians have taken it upon themselves to exercise their powers and responsibilities “with due regard to internationally accepted norms and principles of human rights and the rule of law”. Similarly, under Article II(C)(4) of the Wye River Memorandum, the Palestinian Police is obliged “to exercise its powers and responsibilities with due regard to internationally accepted norms of human rights and the rule of law, and be guided by the need to protect the public, respect human dignity and avoid harassment”.

        The Palestinian solidarity movement has made human rights in Israel one of the centerpieces of its BDS call for action. They demand that Israel end all forms of discrimination and guarantee equality of all of its citizens. The Call asked each of us to pressure our state governments to apply embargoes and sanctions against Israel until it complies with that demand. So the movement should hold the Palestinian government to the very same standard.

        During the first interview in which he brought up the “cult” label, he referred to ROR as leading to the destruction of Israel. Now that suggests that Finkelstein has accepted Israel as a Jewsh state.

        No, the territorial integrity norm preserves and protects the sovereignty and other legal interests of the 7 and a half million Israelis from interference by others. Only 5 million of those citizens are Jewish. For example, the Arab citizens of Israel have adamantly opposed plans to strip them of their rights and to redraw the borders so that the territory they inhabit can be annexed to Palestine. They were under no obligation to consult the wishes of either the BDS movement or the PLO.

        Finkelstein noted that there are many people who interpret RoR to mean that Israel must resettle 6 million Palestinian refugees in its territory. You obviously can’t argue that the presence of 600 thousand Jewish settlers, living among 4 million Palestinians, has destroyed the territorial integrity (demographic balance) of Palestine so severely that it precludes the establishment of two viable states, while at one and the same time maintaining that 6 million additional Palestinians can take-up residence among the 7.5 million existing Israelis without making the two state solution non-viable as well. Finkelstein says that you won’t succeed in fooling anyone outside of the BDS movement if you try – and I think he is correct about that.

        You can explain all about the Roman exile of the Jews and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 48 and 67, but most people will still refuse to accept the idea of an unqualified “right of return” for descendants born in other countries decades, or even generations later.

        And then what? Where does that get us?

        Finkelstein is saying let’s enforce existing international law. I can easily grasp how prosecuting the Israeli official responsible for issuing a deportation or demolition order would help put a stop to that sort of thing. I can’t see how yet another discussion about the legality of Israeli settlements on Democracy Now will ever be nearly as effective in preventing new settlements than simply issuing an Interpol red notice for the officials responsible for authorizing and constructing them.

      • Hostage
        July 12, 2012, 1:31 pm

        So, Finkelstein’s proposed strategy is a non-violent Palestinian uprising backed by international public opinion and governmental action, using various tactics –including boycotts, divestment and sanctions–with the goal of reaching a two state solution (based on international law, 1967 borders, with some land swaps, a recognized RoR, a negotiated settlement on refugees, etc.)

        He began by telling Frank Barat that “Basically to put it in a nutshell, if you’re serious about politics, when you’re serious about building a mass movement, you can’t go beyond what the public is ready to accept. The public is ready to accept, in my opinion, what international law says. So if you put forth a very simple slogan, where you’re asked “How do you want to solve it?” I say easy, all I want to do is enforce the law. The Law is clear, it’s unambiguous, it’s uncomplicated. There is a near unanimous consensus on what the law says. But the law is clear, the settlements are illegal.” –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASIBGSSw4lI

        In fact, the head of the Israeli delegation to the Rome Conference, Judge Eli Nathan, provided the first expert opinion on that subject before the Rome Statute entered into force. He noted that the action of transferring a population into occupied territory was added to the list of serious war crimes that appears in Article 8, Paragraph 2(b), sub-para. viii of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. — http://www.iccnow.org/documents/IsraelatPrepCom17July1998.pdf

        That addition was in-line with the international consensus of the 172 state parties contained in Article 85 of the 1st Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (1977). It unambiguously stated that the action of transferring a population into occupied territory or practices of ‘ apartheid ‘ and other inhuman and degrading practices based on racial discrimination are grave breaches of the Convention and war crimes. http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/WebART/470-750111?OpenDocument

        In the interview with Phil Weiss, Finkelstein said:

        The point to which I responded was not whether Israel has created an Apartheid-like regime in the West Bank. Ever since publication of B’Tselem’s report Land Grab in 2002, I have repeatedly cited its explicit conclusion on this point as authoritative. And by now, so many unimpeachable Israeli figures (including former Israeli attorney-general Michael Ben-Yair) and institutions (such as Haaretz‘s editorial board) have made the Apartheid analogy that it would appear to be beyond reasonable dispute. . . . . under the Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court, Apartheid constitutes a “crime against humanity.”

        — Finkelstein and Philip Weiss http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/finkelstein-and-philip-weiss/

        The ICC isn’t a civil court. So it doesn’t have any non-binding advisory function. Finkelstein has repeatedly made the case that crimes subject to that Court’s jurisdiction have been committed and that he just wants to enforce the law.

      • Rusty Pipes
        July 12, 2012, 10:05 pm

        Hostage, I greatly appreciate your many insights about international law on this site and I have a great deal of respect for Norman Finkelstein’s scholarship. However, I think that you are parsing some words too closely in his defense here. Granted, I am not a lawyer. But neither are Norman Finkelstein, Ali Abunimah nor Omar Barghouti.

        You say:

        A cult is just a small circle of individuals whose ideas are considered strange by outsiders.

        That might be the primary definition in very old dictionaries and among anthropologists. However, it has not been the definition among average Americans since the Moonies, Jim Jones, Heaven’s Gate and the polygamous Mormons. Finkelstein has trained his legendary laser-sharp wit upon the “BDS Leadership.” In the process, he has offended a lot more Palestinians than just Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti.

        To Shingo’s question, you reply:

        Are Abunimah or Barghouti the leadesr of the BDS movement or just high profile supporters? It seems to me that attacking them is a dshoinest way of insisting that BDS has a secret agenda as opposed to taking the momevemt at it’s word.

        Omar Barghouti is a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. So of course he is a leader of the BDS movement. He is the author of a multitude of articles on http://www.bdsmovement.net which respond to criticisms of the BDS movement, so he is an official spokesman too. bdsmovement.net also hosts Ali Abunimah’s response to Norman Finkelstien’s criticisms of “the BDS cult”. The article also contains a link to the One State Declaration, which as Abunimah points out, has been signed by many of the founders of the BDS movement.

        OB is A leader, as is AA. Many of the founders of the BDS movement have signed the One State Declaration, but not all. The 2005 BDS statement had broad support from civic groups across party lines throughout Palestinian society. Palestinians disagree on many things (including 1SS vs 2SS), but those three points were among the few things on which they have agreement. Different Palestinians may feel more strongly about one point or another, but they support all three.

        the leaders of the BDS movement have produced a slew of editorials about the dangers of the UN recognizing a Palestinian state inside those borders and some incoherent gibberish that says we take no position on Israel or the two state solution. Finkelstein points out that, those positions may sound clever inside our own small community, but that they don’t fool anyone else.

        It is not gibberish. Both AA and OB personally support a 1SS. But since opinion on that topic among Palestinians is divided, the BDS movement does not take a position on it.

        Further, Palestinians are deeply divided, not only about Fatah and Hamas, but about the legitimacy of the PA, the continuing leadership of Abbas and Haniyeh (who were elected in 2006, but whose terms have long expired) as well as Fayyad (who was not elected) — all within the context of being unable to hold new elections at all, of the previously elected representatives being prevented by Israel of functioning (in part because some of them are in administrative detention), of the PA security forces being trained and funded by the US to enforce order (and the occupation, as well as stage a coup in Gaza) with an iron fist.

        Adding to Shingo’s response to your statement:

        And how does the PA’s failure to become a party to the regional and international declarations and covenants of protect human rights stand in the way of their membership bid?

        I mentioned it because it’s an example of a double standard regarding protection of minorities. That’s an area Finkelstein addressed in the Barat interview. But since you’ve asked, the UN Charter does require prospective members to observe many fundamental human rights. If the members conclude that Palestine is either unwilling or unable to carry out those obligations, then they have all the excuse that they need to abstain or vote against admitting it as a member state in accordance with Article 4 of the Charter. link to un.org

        and:

        The Palestinian solidarity movement has made human rights in Israel one of the centerpieces of its BDS call for action. They demand that Israel end all forms of discrimination and guarantee equality of all of its citizens. The Call asked each of us to pressure our state governments to apply embargoes and sanctions against Israel until it complies with that demand. So the movement should hold the Palestinian government to the very same standard.

        AA has been an extremely harsh critic of the PA and has accused them of violating human rights. But there is not consensus among Palestinian civil society, so this is not an issue that the BDS movement addresses. Further, since the PA, which has accepted a 2ss, will not accept the formulation of recognizing “Israel’s right to exist,” why would the BDS movement which is divided about 1SS vs 2SS accept that language?

        the BDS Movement has never recognized Israel’s right to exist. It has also withheld its endorsement of the declaration of the State of Palestine made by the representatives of the Palestinian people in 1988. So the movement has never recognized their right to have their own state, in their own territory.

        But he’s all show and no go when it comes to efforts by the State of Palestine to get its status recognized by the UN, so it can have those aspects of international law enforced. He really only uses international law as a stage prop for his political activism, not as a legal remedy.

        Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti pay non-stop lip service to international law without any coaching. But they avoid mentioning what it requires from them and the Palestinians.

        Did I mention that they are not lawyers? However, they are the go-to guys for leftist news sources. So their personal opinions about 1SS vs 2SS are often quoted alongside their opinions about BDS.

        Finally, I’d like to highlight some assumptions you appear to share with Finkelstein:

        Shingo replies when you say:

        What Finkelstein said, is that our ideas are considered strange by others and that he thinks we will never gather a mass following by rejecting the existing international consensus.

        That again seems rather vague because to people like myself, who don’t have the patience to parse every sentence Fink has ever uttered, it’s not clear if he in conflating international consensus with international law (asssuming they are not necessarily the same thing).

        Again you say:

        He simply says that the movement will not attract a mass public following if it takes no public position on Israel and pursues the single state solution and RoR. He points out the opposition will accuse the movement of trying to destroy Israel – and they sure as hell will.

        Finkelstein noted that there are many people who interpret RoR to mean that Israel must resettle 6 million Palestinian refugees in its territory.

        Finkelstein says that you won’t succeed in fooling anyone outside of the BDS movement if you try – and I think he is correct about that.

        You can explain all about the Roman exile of the Jews and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 48 and 67, but most people will still refuse to accept the idea of an unqualified “right of return” for descendants born in other countries decades, or even generations later.

        Who are these “many people,” “most people,” “mass public following”? The international consensus outside the US supports the cause of the BDS movement. American sheeple who accept fearmongering and hasbara do not. Fearmongering cannot be countered by wasting our time trying to make people feel that their fantasy world will always be safe from challenge. Hasbara, on the other hand, can be challenged with facts.

        These are great suggestions for legal remedies. I look forward to hearing more:

        Finkelstein is saying let’s enforce existing international law. I can easily grasp how prosecuting the Israeli official responsible for issuing a deportation or demolition order would help put a stop to that sort of thing. I can’t see how yet another discussion about the legality of Israeli settlements on Democracy Now will ever be nearly as effective in preventing new settlements than simply issuing an Interpol red notice for the officials responsible for authorizing and constructing them.

        After the UNESCO vote, nothing at all prevents the PA from depositing accessions to the UN Human Rights conventions, but the issue has conveniently dropped-off everyone’s radar.

        Arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Israeli officials responsible for facilitating the settlement enterprise is a criminal “sanction” that we can pressure our States (and the BDS leadership) to adopt:

      • mig
        July 13, 2012, 2:21 am

        the BDS Movement has never recognized Israel’s right to exist

        And they are doing quite right on this. Few things. Recognition of s state is made between of states, not between of non-state group / state. That kind of declaration has no legal bases in international law. Then comes another onion, which again can be heard all the time, because someone doesn’t know what they are talking about at all. Is that NO STATE HAS ANY right to exist in international law. No international law declare that states has a right to exist. And don’t confuse here that right of a self-determination.

      • Hostage
        July 13, 2012, 8:20 pm

        I think that you are parsing some words too closely in his defense here.

        I’m being polite to the unelected spokespeople who implicitly suggest that Israelis and Palestinians should suspend attempts to end the conflict by legal means through the UN, Courts, and the 2 state solution. That inevitably means that even more innocent people go on to suffer and die for the foreseeable future in hopes that BDS will make a 1ss solution possible. I don’t happen to think that death is preferable to the prospect of life in a Bantustan. The South African BDS movement never advised the Namibians to drop their UN bid for statehood. There was a much better case for them to demand the right to vote in South Africa on the basis of there being only one de facto government in control of South Africa and South West Africa.

        That might be the primary definition in very old dictionaries and among anthropologists. However, it has not been the definition among average Americans since the Moonies, Jim Jones, Heaven’s Gate and the polygamous Mormons. Finkelstein has trained his legendary laser-sharp wit upon the “BDS Leadership.” In the process, he has offended a lot more Palestinians than just Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti.

        I think that Mondoweiss took the gloves-off when it headlined a “Critique” of Finkelstein that labelled him a “liberal Zionist”. If suggesting that Palestinians are going to have to negotiate or compromise on the RoR makes you a Zionist then Frank Barat and the Palestinian refugees that he mentioned in his interview of Finkelstein must all be liberal Zionists too, because he said that they know that a compromise is going to be necessary. Listen to Barat’s response to Finkelstein here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASIBGSSw4lI#t=15m14s

        Finkelstein did explain that when he steps outside his own cult, he has to be able to defend its ideas to the public at large, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ol8xhTySKfM#t=12m10s

        Who are these “many people,” “most people,” “mass public following”?

        There has been no international outcry over the recent US demand that UNRWA report the numbers of refugees actually displaced during the 1948 war separate from their descendants. The sponsors of that legislation publicly announced that their intent was to reduce the number of 48 refugees from millions to about 30,000 in order to help end the conflict. The Associated Press reported that the legislation was drafted by Knesset member Einat Wilf who said the same thing. There hasn’t been an outpouring of outrage from the international community over the idea of stripping refugee status from millions of Palestinians.

        The many people I’m talking about include millions of Americans and Israelis who fund and elect people like Netanyahu or Mofaz to speak on their behalf, e.g.

        In recent years, the Palestinians twice refused generous offers by Israeli prime ministers to establish a Palestinian state on virtually all the territory won by Israel in the Six Day War. They were simply unwilling to end the conflict. And I regret to say this: They continue to educate their children to hate. They continue to name public squares after terrorists. And worst of all, they continue to perpetuate the fantasy that Israel will one day be flooded by the descendants of Palestinian refugees. My friends, this must come to an end. (applause)

        — Transcript of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to U.S. Congress
        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/transcript-of-prime-minister-netanyahus-address-to-us-congress/article635191/?page=all

        Mofaz is even worse:

        The refugees are a clear red line for me. Not a single Palestinian refugee will go into Israel’s final borders. In negotiations, you start with terms of reference before stage one. That is when we will be clear that there is no compromise on refugees.

        http://www.jpost.com/Features/FrontLines/Article.aspx?id=265758

        That’s what they’re saying after 7 years of BDS. Finkelstein noted that the latter position is a complete non-starter.

        It is not gibberish. Both AA and OB personally support a 1SS. But since opinion on that topic among Palestinians is divided, the BDS movement does not take a position on it.

        I’m sorry, but if 600,000 settlers living in the midst of 4 million Palestinians make the existence of a viable state of Palestine impossible, then an additional 6 million Palestinian refugees living alongside 5 million Jews would obviously destroy the viability of the existing State of Israel too. To claim otherwise requires evasion, deception, or gibberish that comes across as cult-like thinking.

        Further, since the PA, which has accepted a 2ss, will not accept the formulation of recognizing “Israel’s right to exist,” why would the BDS movement which is divided about 1SS vs 2SS accept that language?

        The PA is a creature invented by the PLO. Both organizations refuse to recognize Israel as “the state of the Jewish people”, but they have both formally acknowledged Israel’s right to exist, it’s sovereignty, and its right to territorial integrity in-line with resolution 242:

        September 9, 1993
        Yitzhak Rabin
        Prime Minister of Israel

        Mr. Prime Minister,
        The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era…I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments: The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security. The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. . . . & etc.

        Sincerely,
        Yasser Arafat.
        Chairman: The Palestine Liberation Organization.

        http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/36917473237100E285257028006C0BC5

        The PLO, representing all of the Palestinian people, took an unmistakeable position on the 2ss in 1988. The Palestinian people subsequently established their own government in a portion of the territory of Palestine and it has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the 2ss. That government has been recognized by about 130 other countries. The PLO Executive also submitted its application for membership in the UN and its specialized agencies on the basis of the 1988 Declaration and the applicable international laws.

        Further, Palestinians are deeply divided, not only about Fatah and Hamas, but about the legitimacy of the PA, the continuing leadership of Abbas and Haniyeh (who were elected in 2006, but whose terms have long expired) as well as Fayyad (who was not elected) — all within the context of being unable to hold new elections at all, of the previously elected representatives being prevented by Israel of functioning (in part because some of them are in administrative detention), of the PA security forces being trained and funded by the US to enforce order (and the occupation, as well as stage a coup in Gaza) with an iron fist.

        It’s probably unreasonable to expect the Palestinians to conduct fair elections under the current circumstances, since Israel is treating Hamas as an enemy entity and either jailing or deporting its representatives from Jerusalem.

        Statehood is a legal status conferred on a political entity by other existing states. Elections are not essential to statehood per se. When the validity of Israel’s first election was called into question, Prof. Yehuda Blum responded by pointing-out that many UN member states only hold sham elections, if they bother to hold elections at all.

        The point is that the UN statehood bid was endorsed by the leader of the Hamas Politburo, Khaled Mashal, the President of the PLO and PA, and members of the Israeli Balad Party, like Haneen Zoabi. All of those people have won popular elections at one time or another.

        FYI, Fayyad and Hanan Ashrawi were both elected to the PLC on the Third Way party ticket during the last elections. Ashrawi switched back to the Fatah party in 2009 and was elected to the the PLO Executive Committee along with Chairman Abbas. The PLO is the provisional government of the State of Palestine and has overall responsibility for conducting its foreign relations. It is also an armed revolutionary national liberation movement.

        The revolutionary era population of the United States became deeply divided too. There were mutinies in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Lines. In the latter instance General Washington arranged for firing squads, not elections. Even after the war Whig and Torry factions conducted reprisals against each other and in many cases British loyalists became refugees or were deported.

      • Hostage
        July 14, 2012, 12:16 am

        And they are doing quite right on this. Few things. Recognition of state is made between of states, not between of non-state group / state. Termination of all claims or states of belligerency

        That’s not quite correct. Geoffrey Watson devoted almost an entire chapter in The Oslo Accords: International Law and the Israeli–Palestinian Peace Agreements, Oxford University Press, 2000, to a discussion about the legal precedents for recognition between belligerent communities, national liberation groups and states which had resulted in international agreements between the parties. In general any of the military or civilian leaders of a belligerent community can be considered members of a de facto government or nascent state, i.e. http://www.scribd.com/doc/78737758/2/BELLIGERENT-COMMUNITY-AS-A-DE-FACTO-GOVERNMENT

        The PLO and PA have formally recognized “the right of Israel to exist” and they have “accepted” Security Council resolutions 242, 338, and 1515. The PLO has entered into a number of international agreements and memorandums of understanding with the State of Israel on that basis. http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/36917473237100E285257028006C0BC5

        The members of the BDS National Committee include the “Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine” and the “National Committee for Grassroots Resistance”. Even if you label your group or movement a “Palestinian civil society organization”, you are still a party to the conflict and acting as a co-belligerent when you issue calls for States or groups of states to apply embargoes and sanctions against another existing State outside the framework of the United Nations. See the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

        Then comes another onion, which again can be heard all the time, because someone doesn’t know what they are talking about at all. Is that NO STATE HAS ANY right to exist in international law. No international law declare that states has a right to exist.

        Actually, the Inter-American system of public international law has always recognized the right of a state to exist, e.g. http://books.google.com/books?id=5-AnAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA88&ots=SjvVoyU2cn&pg=PA88#v=onepage&q&f=false

        The “Declaration of Rights and Duties of Nations” drawn up by the American Institute of International Law (1916), Article 1 consisted of two parts: the first part stated that ” every State had a right to exist and the right to protect and preserve its existence;” and the second part read ” this right does not, however, imply that a State is entitled to commit, or is justified in committing unjust acts towards other States in order to protect and preserve its existence. Those principles were incorporated in the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States and Chapter IV Fundamental Rights and Duties of States, in the Charter of the Organization of American States. The conventions are binding on the signatories, but the ILC did not find enough support in the form of opinio juris to impose a customary obligation on other states when it was drafting its own declaration on the Rights and Duties of states. The General Assembly’s Declaration on Friendly Relations Between States creates obligations under the heading of mutual respect and sovereign equality.

        The principle of non-recognition of illegal or wrongful acts is also enshrined in those multilateral treaties and the UN Charter. So the Palestinians are not required to accept Israel’s sovereign jurisdiction beyond the armistice borders.

        There is no inherent right in customary international law for a nascent state to come into existence. However there have been several international treaties that have created a legal duty for other existing states to recognize new states and their frontiers. Some examples are Article 434 of the Treaty of Versailles; Article 60 of the Treaty of Neuilly; Article 74 (2) of the Treaty of Trianon; Article 90 of The Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye; and Articles 30 and 60 of the Treaty of Lausanne.

        Under the terms of the UN Charter only the citizens of a UN member state have the right to challenge its existence through an act of secession. Interference in its political, economic, or cultural independence by other states of groups of states – outside the framework of the UN organization – is strictly prohibited.

        Security Council Resolutions 242 and 1515 have been enshrined in international conventional law and international agreements like the Camp David Accords, the Oslo Accords, and the Quartet Road Map. They require all of the parties to the conflict to terminate their belligerent claims, acknowledge the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force. The Security Council has repeatedly affirmed that those are principles of customary law derived from the UN Charter.

        The General Assembly codifications of international law have affirmed that international disputes shall be settled on the basis of the Sovereign equality of States and that the principal of sovereign equality includes several elements, such as the fact that the territorial integrity and political independence of the State are inviolable. No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are in violation of international law. http://www.law.hku.hk/conlawhk/conlaw/outline/Outline4/2625.htm

      • Sibiriak
        July 14, 2012, 7:18 am

        Rusty Pipes:

        The 2005 BDS statement had broad support from civic groups across party lines throughout Palestinian society. Palestinians disagree on many things (including 1SS vs 2SS), but those three points were among the few things on which they have agreement.

        And yet, Phillip Weiss writes:

        …when I attended the Third National BDS Conference in Hebron this past December one attendee asked Omar Barghouti why the movement doesn’t explicitly endorse one state? He responded by saying it’s because the overwhelming number of Palestinian organizations that endorsed the BDS call support two states.

        Okay, if the overwhelming number of Palestinian organizations backing the BDS agreed on a 2SS, why wasn’t that agreement reflected in the BDS statements, at least in the form of a recognition of Israel as a legitimate state (not necessarily as a Jewish State, of course)?

        Why does the BDS statement demand that Israel recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination but not mention Palestinian recognition of the Jewish people’s inalienable right to self-determination?

        Why does the BDS statement demand Israel adhere to international law by
        respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194. but NOT mention that the manner of implementation of such a right would be determined in negotiations with Israel?

        Why does the BDS statement call for Israel’s “ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall without making it explicit that the occupied territories are those outside Israel’s 1967 borders?

      • Sibiriak
        July 14, 2012, 8:11 am

        Hostage:

        I’m sorry, but if 600,000 settlers living in the midst of 4 million Palestinians make the existence of a viable state of Palestine impossible, then an additional 6 million Palestinian refugees living alongside 5 million Jews would obviously destroy the viability of the existing State of Israel too. To claim otherwise requires evasion, deception, or gibberish that comes across as cult-like thinking.

        Likewise, if a 2SS is deemed unrealistic because it is allegedly impossible to force Israel to dismantle a portion of the zionist Israeli state in the West Bank–the settlement blocks and matrix of control–then a 1SS (democratic state with equal rights for Jews, Arabs, et al.) is, arguably, vastly more unrealistic, since a 1SS would require the total dismantlement of the zionist Israeli state, society, culture and ideology.

        Uri Avnery:
        http://www.countercurrents.org/pappe110607.htm

        Anybody who is rooted in the Israeli-Jewish public knows that this public’s deepest aspiration – and here it is permissable to make a genralization – the far far deepest aspiration is to maintain a state with a Jewish majority, a state where Jews will be masters of their fate. This takes precedence over any other wish and aspitaration, it takes precedence even over wanting to have a Greater Israel.

        You can talk of a Single State from the Meditteranean to the Jordan River, define it as bi-national or supra-national – whatever the term used, in practice it means the dismantling of the State of Israel, destruction of all that was built for five generations. This must be said out loud, without any evasions. That is exactly how the Jewish public sees it, and certainly also a large part of the Palestinian public. This means the dismantling of the State of Israel. I am a bit disturbed by the fact that these words are not said explicitly.

      • Shingo
        July 14, 2012, 9:18 am

        if a 2SS is deemed unrealistic because it is allegedly impossible to force Israel to dismantle a portion of the zionist Israeli state in the West Bank–the settlement blocks and matrix of control–then a 1SS (democratic state with equal rights for Jews, Arabs, et al.) is, arguably, vastly more unrealistic

        Spo what are you suggesting. That it is more realistic – meaning more acceptable – that all the Palestinians perish or be massacred than for Israel to becoem a binational state?

        Sometimes I wonder about your people. You sound everyy bit as fanatical as Bibbi, yet you pretend to be moderates and pro Palestinian.

        a 1SS would require the total dismantlement of the zionist Israeli state, society, culture and ideology.

        NOh please that’s the same BS we were fed with apartheid South Africa and Jim Crowe. Even Australia used to have a “white Australia policy” based on limiting immigration of non Europeans.

        It turned out OK in the end.

        It would only require the dismantlement of racist policies and racist institutions, much like the dismantlement of the Soviet Union did not require Russians to change their identity.

        As Avnery points out, the only structure that would be dismantled woudl be the Jewish majority. All it comes down to in the end is a selse fo identity steeped in superiority anyway.

      • Sibiriak
        July 14, 2012, 11:27 am

        Shingo:

        Spo what are you suggesting. That it is more realistic – meaning more acceptable…

        More realistic does NOT mean “more acceptable”; it means more feasible, more possible, more achievable. It refers to a factual/logical judgment about reality, devoid of any value judgment.

        But if you want to change my word to “acceptable, I will oblige you an answer your question:

        Shingo:

        [What would be] more acceptable – that all the Palestinians perish or be massacred than for Israel to becoem a binational state?

        It’s a silly question; the answer is obvious: Israel to become a binational state!

        Sometimes I wonder about your people

        I don’t have a “people”. I’m not Jewish; I’m not Zionist; I don’t live in the U.S.; I personally do not identify with any specific national, ethnic, religious or cultural group; I’m a radical individualist.

        Sibiriak:

        a 1SS would require the total dismantlement of the zionist Israeli state, society, culture and ideology.

        Shingo:

        It would only require the dismantlement of racist policies and racist institutions

        I consider the Israel zionist state, society, culture and ideology to be racist –ethno-religious supremacist, to be precise. I think THAT ethno-supremacist state-society complex would have to be dismantled in order for a democratic, equal rights based, 1SS to be realized.

        Shingo:

        As Avnery points out, the only structure that would be dismantled woudl be the Jewish majority

        The “Jewish majority” isn’t a “structure”. It is a demographic fact. The structure Avnery refers to is the State of Israel in all its manifestations, which is much more than a demographic fact. It is a conglomeration of political, economic, social, cultural and ideological institutions and structures that was built, as Avnery points out, over five generations.

        I don’t like that state-society complex at all, really. I find it rather detestable in multiple aspects, to put it mildly.

        But as a realist, I agree with Ilan Pappe:

        The millions of Jews in Israel must be reckoned with. It is a living organism that will remain part of any future solution.

        I don’t think that organism can be re-educated and transformed in the short-medium term; it is unlikely to be destroyed either. It’s a hideous organism for sure, but it must be reckoned with.

        Ilan Pappe:

        … it is important to emphasize that pressure is meant to trigger meaningful negotiations, not take their place.

        I agree with that logic. Ultimately, the purpose of non-violent pressure on Israel such as BDS can only be to trigger negotiations with the state of Israel. What other purpose can non-violent pressure on Israel have?

        Okay then, if these negotiations are going to happen within the next decades, I cannot see Israel agreeing to a dismantlement of the Jewish State–can you?

        I can see Israel being pressured into agreeing to a two-state settlement. Not a just one. Not a solution. But a major improvement on the present abominable situation.

        Ilan Pappe:

        change from within is key to bringing about a lasting solution to the question of the refugees, the predicament of the Palestinian minority in Israel, and the future of Jerusalem.

        I agree with that also. Change from within will take a very, very long time. But it will happen, imo. Not in the foreseeble future though, and it is the foreseeable future that I am concerned with.

    • ColinWright
      July 8, 2012, 9:19 pm

      “…the UN and legal process —-that is actually, in the end, the only thing that will create a Palestine state…”

      Well now you see, I disagree. I don’t think the UN and the legal process are going to create a Palestinian state. The UN and the legal process actually did create a Palestinian state 65 years ago — and guess what? It’s still not there.

      What will create a Palestinian state is enough Israeli Jews deciding they’d rather not live in Palestine any longer. That, and nothing else.

      • Hostage
        July 9, 2012, 12:30 pm

        The UN and the legal process actually did create a Palestinian state 65 years ago — and guess what? It’s still not there.

        Statehood is just a legal status conferred on a territory and its inhabitants by other existing States. The foreign relations laws of many countries, including the US, treat any state under foreign military occupation as if it continues to exist. The majority of UN and ICC member states already recognize the existence of the occupied State of Palestine. Oddly enough, it’s the leadership of the BDS movement that does not, although statehood is one of the necessary preconditions for the ICC to act on Palestine’s criminal complaints against the officials of the illegal Israeli administrative regime.

        What will create a Palestinian state is enough Israeli Jews deciding they’d rather not live in Palestine any longer. That, and nothing else.

        No one will create a Palestinian State by torpedoing the UN statehood bid in advance, like the current leadership of the BDS movement. Arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Israeli officials responsible for facilitating the settlement enterprise is a criminal “sanction” that we can pressure our States (and the BDS leadership) to adopt:

        We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel.

        — “Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS”, http://www.bdsmovement.net/call

      • Sibiriak
        July 14, 2012, 6:45 am

        Hostage: If suggesting that Palestinians are going to have to negotiate or compromise on the RoR makes you a Zionist then Frank Barat and the Palestinian refugees that he mentioned in his interview of Finkelstein must all be liberal Zionists too, because he said that they know that a compromise is going to be necessary. ”

        Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t Palestinian negotiators at Taba and subsequently (2008) adopt a position that a RoR agreement would entail severe restrictions on the actual number of refugees that could return to Israel along with compensation, symbolic statements of responsibility etc.? Wasn’t that true of the Geneva Accords as well? If so, are all the Palestinians that supported those negotiating positions “liberal Zionists”?

  10. yourstruly
    July 7, 2012, 1:53 pm

    not the first time that a former supporter of a liberation movement lost touch with those for whom s/he previously had struggled, thereby becoming irrelevant to their cause.

  11. chinese box
    July 7, 2012, 4:11 pm

    I might be misunderstanding his position, but it seems that part of Finkelstein’s argument is that the 2ss must come about through “the law”, rather than through boycotts. Is he referring to the UN, or more peace-processing by Dennis Ross, et al? I’m not seeing how either of these paths can produce the results he wants, or how he of all people could still have faith in them at this juncture.

    • Sibiriak
      July 8, 2012, 8:25 am

      Finkelstein supports BDS tactics. He disagrees with what he believes are the goals of the BDS movement.

      http://mondoweiss.net/2012/02/norman-finkelstein-slams-the-bds-movement-calling-it-a-cult.html/comment-page-1#comment-425179

      Finklestein: “I said clearly. I said I think the solidarity movement has the right tactics. I support the BDS. But I said it will never reach a broad public until and unless they are explicit on their goal. And their goal has to include recognition of Israel. Or it is a non starter.”

      • American
        July 8, 2012, 12:39 pm

        “But I said it will never reach a broad public until and unless they are explicit on their goal. And their goal has to include recognition of Israel. Or it is a non starter.”…Finkelstein

        Well this could be taken as a zionist statement …or it could be taken as from someone who has been so immersed in zionist control of the US that he thinks they can’t be defeated in any arena that doesn’t bottom line support the continued exisence of Israel.

        Either way I don’t think it matters in the end…Israel and anti Israel or anti zionism is in the non Jewish mainstream now and growing…..when and if it grows enough neither the zionist nor the liberal zionist will matter except as opponants of the majority public opinion.

      • Hostage
        July 9, 2012, 1:30 am

        And their goal has to include recognition of Israel. Or it is a non starter.”…Finkelstein . . . . Well this could be taken as a zionist statement

        No it is just a restatement of one of the two UN Charter principles that is supposed to govern the settlement. It is spelled-out in UN Security Council resolution 242, which has been incorporated by reference in conventional international law through the Camp David and Oslo Accords, the Quartet Road Map, & etc., i.e.:
        i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

        (ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

        The same resolution states the further necessity of achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem.

        If the BDS movement refuses to recognize the right of the State of Israel in accordance with para (ii), then it’s just another co-belligerent.

        It’s not possible to reconcile Omar Barghouti’s claims that “the PLO is the sole, legitimate representative of the entire Palestinian people” with the position advanced above that he is actually a citizen of the State of Israel for the purposes of an academic boycott. http://mondoweiss.net/2011/09/the-un-application-for-the-state-of-palestine-and-the-future-of-the-plo.html

        Only the sovereign State of Israel can act as the sole legitimate representative of its citizens in the United Nations, its subsidiary organs, and before UN treaty bodies. For example, Israel has accepted the applicability of the ICERD and other human rights treaties to citizens like Mr. Barghouti, who live inside its municipal jurisdiction. The PLO does not represent the citizens of Israel in any UN organ.

      • ColinWright
        July 8, 2012, 4:45 pm

        “…And their goal has to include recognition of Israel. Or it is a non starter.”

        I wonder if that’s true? It might be true of the white, American, heavily Jewish milieu Finkelstein thinks of as ‘us’ — but is it true of the wider world?

        Muslims aren’t on board with it. I doubt if many non-Muslim Asians see Israel as a sacred cow. I can think of at least one Hispanic intellectual I know who is vehemently anti-Israel. Europeans — I don’t think they would be all that resistant to the argument that Israel is simply a relict of the colonial and racial nationalist mentality of a hundred years ago.

        So who would get up on their hind legs if the proposition was to do away with Israel entirely? Nine out of ten of those that would are going to oppose any genuine reform anyway. It’s like fretting about openly advocating voting rights for Blacks on the grounds that you’re going to be alienating the more moderate KKK members.

        Just come out with it. Israel shouldn’t exist. I think it gains you as much as it costs. Let the Israel supporters worry about how to compromise.

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 4:03 am

        I happen to agree with Finklestein on his point that “Israel shouldn’t exist” is a terrible slogan upon which to build broad international pressure, popular and governmental, against the oppressive Israeli state.

      • Roya
        July 9, 2012, 4:12 am

        Sibiriak, to the best of my knowledge nobody in BDS is using that slogan. Zionists have construed the third goal of the movement (right of return) as the destruction of Israel but that’s just Zionist logic. In fact BDS has made sure to cut out people they deem too extreme in order to kosherize the movement.

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 5:09 am

        Roya, you are correct. I misstated Finkelstein’s argument, reacting to ColinWright’s statement: “Just come out with it. Israel shouldn’t exist.”.

        Finkelstein’s argument isn’t that people in the BDS are actually using the slogan “Israel shouldn’t exist”, but rather that by failing to *explicitly* recognize the place of the Israeli state in international law and public opinion, they hamstring the BDS movement. He’s calling for a clarification of goals.

        Finkelstein: “An unwitting omission that BDS does not mention Israel. You know that and I know that. It’s not like they are like oh we forgot to mention it. They won’t mention it because they know it will split the movement. Cause there is large segment of the movement, component of the movement that wants to eliminate Israel.”

        Finkelstein is saying, imo, “Just come out with it. Israel should exist.”

        Of course, there is the counter-argument that a 1SS is not about eliminating or destroying Israel, but about transforming it.

        I personally don’t find that latter argument convincing, despite its superficial appeal. But that’s another discussion.

      • Hostage
        July 9, 2012, 9:17 am

        I wonder if that’s true? It might be true of the white, American, heavily Jewish milieu Finkelstein thinks of as ‘us’ — but is it true of the wider world?

        Muslims aren’t on board with it.

        Yes they are. MK Haneen Zoabi and the Bilad party support the two state solution and oppose Israeli plans to redraw borders and strip Palestinians of their Israeli citizenship (Grand Apartheid). They want Israel to be a state for all of its citizens.

        According to their NDA program, any solution that implements the principle of equal co-existence, and equal sovereignty, can be accepted. The principle is not two states; the principle is the values of justice and of sovereignty for two nations. Haneen Zoabi said:

        These values [currently] lead us to solve the occupation problem via two states; and the problem of Zionism and racism via a state for all its citizens. And, of course, justice means the right of return for all the refugees.

        See the interview:
        *http://www.israeli-occupation.org/2012-01-14/ioa-interview-with-haneen-zoabi-challenge-zionism-demand-equality-and-co-existence/
        and
        *http://972mag.com/watch-hanin-zoabi-israel-has-no-right-to-live-in-security/36847/

      • Roya
        July 9, 2012, 4:54 pm

        Sibiriak, I agree with Finkelstein that the movement needs to be more clear in its goals because otherwise, that’s going to cause some problems down the road within the movement. I’m curious to know why you think a 1SS is about destroying Israel. Is your concern about the Jewish character of the state or about a violent destruction of Israel or something else?

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 10:50 pm

        ColinWright says: “Europeans — I don’t think they would be all that resistant to the argument that Israel is simply a relict of the colonial and racial nationalist mentality of a hundred years ago.

        […]Just come out with it. Israel shouldn’t exist. ”

        Do you have any evidence to support that assertion? Have you seen opinion polls on that question? Do you think a large majority of Europeans would say “yes” to the proposition that “Israel shouldn’t exist”?

      • Sibiriak
        July 10, 2012, 4:07 am

        Roya,

        I don’t think 1SS is “about destroying Israel”. I think the notion of a single democratic state based on citizenship and equal rights is a far better concept of a state than the Zionist concept of an ethno/religio-centric Israeli state. So naturally, 1SS advocates say they are interested in *transforming* the Israeli state, not eliminating it or destroying it.

        That argument has great appeal, and I was persuaded by it for some time. When I came to the realization that the whole “peace process” was a fraud, that Israel had no intention of relinquishing the settlements in the West Bank, and that those settlements and the vast “matrix of control” decisively precluded the creation of a genuine, sovereign, viable Palestinian state, I couldn’t help but throw up my hands and say–well that’s it, the struggle for a 2SS is over, now we are talking about an anti-apartheid struggle within a single de-facto state, a struggle which will eventually lead to a single democratic state.

        But deeper reflection leads me to the conclusion (tentative of course–I’m not an ideologue) that such a 1SS is an illusion, a Utopian dream.

        Such a state would require a complete change in the Jewish Israeli ideology and mentality, the abandoment of all the foundational Jewish national myths, the dismantlement of all the power structures, etc. and I just don’t see how such a transformation can be achieved. (It would also require Palestinians to give up some Palestinian nationalist aspirations).

        As WillB wrote in another thread:

        “Israel pulling all the settlements from the West Bank to accommodate a Palestinian state is, no doubt, an incredibly unlikely scenario. But this assessment seems relatively favorable when I move consider the probability of Israel willingly dismantling itself to accommodate the erection of a single Arab majority state encompassing all of Palestine. If Israel uprooting the settlements as part of a two-state agreement is incredibly unlikely, the odds of Israel acquiescing to a one-state solution border on the absurd.”

        I’ve come to the (tentative) conclusion that NEITHER a 2SS (based roughly on 1967 borders) nor a 1SS is possible, but that the best possibility in the short/medium term is for the Palestinians to get as much a truncated, fragmented, not completely-sovereign, pseudo-state as possible, end as much oppression, violence and daily suffering as possible, then work from there. If more than that is possible in the short/medium term, then I think it will be in the direction of the kind of two-state settlement advocated by Finkelstein and others, rather than an abandonment of the two-state concept.

        As NevadaNed said:
        “So however long you think it will take to get a two-state solution, it will take even longer to get a one-state solution. And the Palestinians have been oppressed for the last 64 years already.”

        MB also has made some hard-hitting, but compelling points:

        “MB. says: The Israelis are quite right to fear the one state solution — they know, very well, the ceaseless humiliations that they have heaped on the Arabs, and they fear that the Arabs will never, ever forgive them, and will never turn the other cheek. They are right — most Israelis, surely, must know what they have done. I am not suggesting Israelis feel guilty or sorry about it — they are racist supremacists — but they know very well Arabs will not forgive them.

        It is not at all the same case as when West and East Africa was handed back to its original African owners — in those cases, the white population, annoyed and peeved that they could no longer enjoy their manicured lawns, cucumber sandwich garden parties, cricket, evening cocktails and ‘England in the summer’ lifestyle, simply packed up their colonial bags and returned to the rolling fields of Southern England or France. Think about it — how many of the original white population of settlers stayed and worked with the new African governments? Very few — an eccentric white tea planter here or there, or a working class white electrician or engineer, with little to go back to in Europe remained — but not a great amount of white people remained in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, and even fewer white people remained in Nigeria, Niger, Mozambique Algeria, Morocco, etc.

        In Southern Africa it was different — the white settlers had deeper roots going back to the late 1600′s, and had developed a rural white peasantry, a working class and an affluent middle class, who had long severed their European roots. And in these countries, the black populations usually lived in chronic under class slum poverty, servitude, and even lived quasi hunter gather rural lives, a state for the most part, worse than the serf status of Europe in the 1600’s, with no education and no real means of taking organised, directed revenge beyond numerous random gruesome stabbings and lynching of white people, etc, which did happen in South Africa.
        In Israel though, it is different — you have a literate, well educated, powerful Arab population, with a long and enlightened cultural memory, with a sense of identity and dignity that goes far further back than the middle ages, a sense of pride, supported by very powerful connections worldwide, and all of these Arabs know they have had their faces shoved in the dirt and trash for decades — and they will not live in peace with those who turned up from Poland and Russia, Paris and Brooklyn, stole their homes and then proceeded to intentionally hurt everything sacred to them.
        The Israelis know that, and thus will not accept one state — that is the truth.

        Also, as Shahak and other have shown, Israeli society, culture, and religion is riddled with racism, prejudice and exclusion – the Israelis would never accept being on equal footing with ‘the other’. Not only that, many of Israel’s immigrant population hail from Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Poland — ALL of these countries are deeply, deeply racist, macho, inward look, excluding societies, mired in ethno centric nationalism, and exclusion of the ‘other’, and the Jewish immigrants have carried that racism with them to Israel.

        Do you think Ukrainians and Poles and Moldovans would ever accept equal rights with Arabs — never. Israelis will not either.

        Two states is not going to happen — the Jews have contempt for the very idea of giving up, or sharing the land. One state isn’t going to happen either.”

        I also find Hostage’s (and Finkelstein’s) arguments about the potential power of international law in the service of the Palestinian cause to be somewhat compelling.

        Thus, I see the best hope in the combination of a non-violent Palestinian intifada, combined with intense international pressure, popular and governmental, combined with new attempts to harness international law–all toward the goal of a 2SS (not a 1SS requiring the complete transformation of the Israeli state/society).

        In the very long run-50, 100, 150 years– a single democratic state may well emerge as a real possibility.

      • Hostage
        July 10, 2012, 11:01 am

        I agree with Finkelstein that the movement needs to be more clear in its goals because otherwise, that’s going to cause some problems down the road within the movement. . . . I’m curious to know why you think a 1SS is about destroying Israel. Is your concern about the Jewish character of the state or about a violent destruction of Israel or something else?

        “Destroying Israel” is an example of a problem that already exists because the movement has no clearly defined goal. There is no point in shreying about Israel altering the demographic balance, destroying the territorial integrity, or creating non-contiguous enclaves unless you’ve committed to the two state solution and have completely ruled-out the possibility of a single state solution. Otherwise, you must accept the territorial integrity and sovereignty of every state in the region – including Israel – in accordance with customary law, the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and resolution 242.

        A reasonable settlement of the refugee problem in line with international law and UN resolutions could allow for:
        *Family unity for the relatively few surviving refugees of 48 and 67 and their descendants when they opt to return to Israel;
        *Compensation and denial of immigration for surviving descendants of deceased refugees who were born in other countries and have no active connection (e.g. marriage) to the economic, political, or social life of the country of Israel.
        *The option of compensation plus citizenship and residency in the territory of the new State of Palestine for any refugee or descendant registered with UNRWA.

      • Roya
        July 10, 2012, 9:07 pm

        Sibiriak, your entire argument for why the one state solution is an illusion, a Utopian dream” is predicated on the notion that Israel will not voluntarily transform itself. (“Such a state would require a complete change in the Jewish Israeli ideology and mentality,” “Israelis would never accept being on equal footing with ‘the other’”, “Do you think Ukrainians and Poles and Moldovans would ever accept equal rights with Arabs — never. Israelis will not either,” “when I consider the probability of Israel willingly dismantling itself, ” “Two states is not going to happen” because “the Jews have contempt for the very idea of giving up, or sharing the land.”) Given the fantastical news that came to light yesterday, with the Israelis denying that the West Bank is occupied territory and convincing themselves that they have a lawful right to the land, I think we can both agree that the Israelis are going to volunteer to do the following to facilitate peace with the Palestinians (drumroll please): . . . NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. That is why you have the BDS movement–because people have realized that dinosaurs will re-emerge before Israel volunteers to correct its own wrongs. You yourself realize this, which is why you think that to create a Palestinian bantustan, we need a non-violent Palestinian intifada combined with “intense international pressure, popular and governmental, combined with new attempts to harness international law.” Notice that you didn’t put “Israel’s voluntary cooperation” in this list. So if you remove the irrelevant predication that the one state solution won’t happen because ‘Israelis don’t want it to,’ then you need new justifications for your conclusion.

        And quoting NevadaNed, you write, “So however long you think it will take to get a two-state solution, it will take even longer to get a one-state solution. And the Palestinians have been oppressed for the last 64 years already.” Who knows how long it will take to create a two-state solution? We can’t look to history for the answer, because as you acknowledge, there has never been a move towards a two-state solution. Until now, there has never been a push to find a solution, and the push that exists now is coming from solidarity activists around the world. When that push grows strong enough to induce change, I think I can safely say that both the one-state and two-state solutions will be considered.

        And let’s not forget the array of politicians, scholars, activists, journalists, etc. of all backgrounds who advocate for the one state solution and believe it to be attainable. A quick search on the Zionist occupied territory of Wikipedia gave me this list: Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, former PA prime minister Ahmed Qureia, current Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Knesset member Tzipi Hotovely, former Israeli defense minister Moshe Arens, our very own Philip Weiss (see Finkelstein-Weiss exchange from early June), Palestinian American professor George Bisharat, chief Oslo negotiator Saeb Erakat, Palestinian American journalist Ali Abunima, Israeli-born writer Gilad Atzmon, Israeli writer Dan Gavron, Israeli ICAHD founder Jeff Halper, Palestinian American journalist Jamal Dajani, and Palestinian American scholar Rashid Khalidi. And again, I got this from a 3 minute search on Zionist occupied territory, so this is by no means a comprehensive list of notable proponents of the one state solution. I’m not one to dismiss each and every one of these people, who undoubtedly know more about the issue than me, as silly and delusional ideologues.

      • Sibiriak
        July 11, 2012, 12:03 am

        Roya,

        You make some strong points, and believe me, I’m not dogmatic on this at all.

        Roya says:
        “your entire argument for why the one state solution is an illusion, a Utopian dream” is predicated on the notion that Israel will not voluntarily transform itself.”

        Not quite. My argument is that Israel will not voluntarily change itself to accept a 1SS AND cannot (will not) be forced into a 1SS.

        The way I see it, if Israel can be forced into anything at all, it will be a 2SS. If it can’t be forced into a 2SS, I believe, a fortiori, it can’t be forced into a 1SS.

        Note also: by “1SS” I’ve been referring to a single democratic state comprising Gaza, Israel, the West Bank, with Jews and Arabs living together, with equal individual rights, and possibly some collective rights (a bi-national state).

        That’s somewhat different from Colin Wright’s vision:

        “ColinWright says: I advocate forcing Israel to make political changes that I happen to believe will lead to the majority of Israeli Jews leaving Palestine. Palestine will then be a Palestinian state.”

        But either way, I don’t see the means by which to “force Israel to make political changes”, i.e. force Israel to accept a single territorial state with Gaza and the West Bank and with everyone being equal citizens etc.

        Why do I say that? Because I find the situation in which Israel absorbs most of Area C, and relegates Palestinians to Gaza and Areas A and B–which is what I believe Israel has in the works–will NOT be susceptible to the same kind of anti-Apartheid campaign that transformed South Africa into a single state with equal voting rights etc. (See my posts regarding Jeff Halper and Neve Gordon’s analyses.)

        Of course, I could be wrong. I’m just stating my tentative judgment of the situation.

        Roya, please explain to me –in detail, step by step–how Israel is going to be forced into a 1SS?

        Roya says: “And let’s not forget the array of politicians, scholars, activists, journalists, etc. of all backgrounds who advocate for the one state solution and believe it to be attainable. […] I’m not one to dismiss each and every one of these people, who undoubtedly know more about the issue than me, as silly and delusional ideologues.”

        I certainly don’t dismiss any of those folks as delusional ideologues.

        It’s just a matter of judgment. Reasonable people can disagree. The situation in Israel/Palestine is highly complex, to say the least.

        It may also come down to a question of TIME. In the very long run, anything is possible–certainly a single state, be it along western liberal-democratic lines based on individual rights, a bi-national state recognizing collective political rights, or a Palestinian national state along the lines Colin Wright predicts.

        So, keep in mind, that a movement for a (clearly unjust) 2SS in the short/medium run (which would alleviate much suffering) does not preclude a possibility of a single democratic state in the long run.

      • Hostage
        July 11, 2012, 1:03 am

        NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. That is why you have the BDS movement

        We have a BDS movement because one year after the 2004 ICJ advisory opinion, the UN and the international community had failed, so far, to convince or force Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine.

        It’s 7 years later and the BDS movement can claim that it too has failed, so far, to convince or force Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine.

      • Sibiriak
        July 11, 2012, 1:12 am

        Roya,

        Regarding Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, who you mention:

        Pappe writes:

        http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org/news/opinion-a-analysis/item/1753-ilan-papp%C3%A9-the-boycott-will-work-an-israeli-perspective

        “Even before one begins to define more specifically what such outside pressure entails, it is essential not to confuse the means (pressure) with the objective (finding a formula for joint living). In other words, it is important to emphasize that pressure is meant to trigger meaningful negotiations, not take their place. ”

        Negotiations with the objective of a formula for joint living.

        Dwell on that for the moment.

        Can you imagine Israel agreeing to a 1SS in such negotiations? Really?

        What kind of transformations would have to take place in the Israeli polity and society for Israel to negotiate away it’s Zionist raison raison d’etre?

        And by what means will those transformations be FORCED (we know they won’t be coming voluntarilly)? By international pressure + a non-violent Palestinian Intifada? By violence?

        Pappe argues that for the kind of new reality in Israel/Palestine that you want, Roya, there must be an internal transformation within the collective Israeli Jewish psyche:

        Pappe:

        “… it seems safe to conclude that the peace process has actually deterred the colonizer and occupier from transforming its mentality and ideology. As long as the international community waits for the oppressed to transform their positions, while validating those upheld by the oppressor since 1967, this will remain the most brutal occupation the world has seen since World War II.”

        And:
        “…I still believe that change from within is key to bringing about a lasting solution to the question of the refugees, the predicament of the Palestinian minority in Israel, and the future of Jerusalem…”

        So Pappe’s formula for change includes both pressure from outside AND radical change from within.

        But as Pappe says:

        “The closing of the public mind in Israel, the persistent hold of the settlers over Israeli society, the inbuilt racism within the Jewish population, the dehumanization of the Palestinians, and the vested interests of the army and industry in keeping the occupied territories—all of these mean that we are in for a very long period of callous and oppressive occupation.”

        That’s the question of *time* that I raised. In the short/medium run, pressure form outside is NOT going to cause a transformation of Zionist ideology and mentality. That’s a very long-run proposition, imo.

        Pappe writes: “Pariah status will hopefully persuade Israel to abandon its policies of war crimes and abuses of human rights. ”

        Those seem to me to be realistic goals (compared to a 1SS) which can be achieved in the short/medium term via BDS+non-violent revolt+the use of international law, and are consistent with a two-state settlement goal.

        Pappe ends his piece with this:

        “However, it is first our sacred duty to end the oppressive occupation and to prevent another Nakba—and the best means for achieving this is a sustained boycott and divestment campaign.”

        But that leaves open the question: if the BDS campaign is aimed toward forcing genuine negotiations with Zionist Israel, isn’t it clear that those negotiations –in the foreseeable future–will be about a some kind of two-state agreement (unjust, and not a “solution”) and that 1SS is very much a different, very long-term project?

      • Roya
        July 12, 2012, 1:40 pm

        @Sibiriak, “My argument is that Israel will not voluntarily change itself to accept a 1SS AND cannot (will not) be forced into a 1SS”
        Ok. Look at a 2012 map. Do you see the Soviet Union? The Ottoman Empire? The French Mandate of Syria and the Lebanon? Yugoslavia? Nazi Germany? The Weimar Republic? I don’t. Did they all volunteer to dissolve themselves? Where is Stalinism today? Nazism? Marxism? Maoism? They’re down the ash can of failed 20th century political ideologies. Zionism, arguably due to the powerful positions of its supporters and sympathizers, has surpassed the lifespan of its cousins, but it’s heaving–its already-established supporters are clinging on to it with more fervor, but it hardly has enough traction to gain enough new followers to survive through subsequent generations. Even American Jews–those who are predisposed to Zionism–are falling out of love with its manifestation, Israel. Your beloved Finkelstein acknowledges this and even dedicated an entire book to this finding (Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End).
        “Roya, please explain to me –in detail, step by step–how Israel is going to be forced into a 1SS?”
        I don’t have a step-by-step breakdown of how any solution to the Israel-Palestine situation will be achieved. But nation-states do rise and fall, and I see no country but Israel whose survival depends to such a large extent on both a foreign country and its public image. Israel needs America’s veto power at the Security Council, and it needs America for its military prowess. Unfortunately for Israel, (1) the power of the American empire is declining (this one’s sad for Americans too) and (2) Israel’s public image is declining.

        In April 2011, Miri Eisen, a former spokesperson for the IDF spoke at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv. She said, “Israel now is the Goliath, the Palestinians are the David, and we still see ourselves as a David versus Goliath” (I doubt you could ever get such a candid official statement outside Israel). And a BBC-sponsored survey published in April 2011 about global attitudes suggested that Israel is among the least popular countries on earth. Just three countries had more negative ratings: Pakistan, North Korea and Iran. Considering that Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran don’t have multi-million dollar global branding campaigns to boost their public image, it speaks volumes for Israel to be listed among their ranks.

        Israel depends on the United States for its survival, and by extension the approval of the American people to allow their government to continue to service Israel the way it has been doing for 45+ years. Do I see the U.S. government relinquishing its support for Israel in the next 5-10 years? No. But with the Gaza massacre of a few years ago, the aid flotilla massacre, the relatively new publications on the Israel lobby, and footage like the Hebron-officer-kicks-boy video that went viral last week, it’s hard for the average comatose American to believe the fantasies that Israel, its lobby, and mainstream media conjure up, and therefore unlikely that the masses will continue to let the Congressional voting records on Israel go unchallenged. And this is something that Israel is very aware of, hence its revamped hasbara efforts (Facebook IDF soldiers, really?) and government-sponsored projects to deal with the “delegitimization threat.” I don’t know the exact path to a solution, but I definitely don’t see the stable and invincible Israeli state that you seem to see.

      • Roya
        July 12, 2012, 2:01 pm

        It may also come down to a question of TIME. In the very long run, anything is possible
        I’m not a big fan of viewing time as the cure to all things. If I plan on becoming a millionaire and then sit back, relax, and tell myself that in the long run anything is possible, I’m not that dedicated to becoming a millionaire, am I? You may be right that we won’t see a viable solution for another 100-150 years, but if we shed our goals of establishing a one-state or viable two-state solution because the timing is not right, then we create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        And of course what Pappe says about the need for change from within is right. But Pappe also spends time speaking at conferences outside of Israel and invests time each semester teaching a new class of bushy-eyed English students about Israel and Palestine, so he obviously thinks that change from outside is pivotal too.
        Can you imagine Israel agreeing to a 1SS in such negotiations? Really?
        Not really, but Israel doesn’t always get what it wants. If it did, Palestinians would be extinct, Romney would have replaced an impeached Obama yesterday, and the only country standing between Israel and regional hegemony would be annihilated tomorrow.

      • Roya
        July 12, 2012, 2:32 pm

        Hostage, the UN General Assembly does not have the right to create a state. It can only make recommendations.

      • Hostage
        July 12, 2012, 7:24 pm

        Hostage, the UN General Assembly does not have the right to create a state. It can only make recommendations.

        The ICJ has ruled in a number of cases that it is a mistake to believe that the General Assembly can only make recommendations. See for example the Namibia and Certain Expenses cases.
        *http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/53/5595.pdf
        *http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/49/5259.pdf

        The General Assembly has the necessary power under Articles 18 and 81 of the UN Charter to adopt a binding decision to place a territory, like Jerusalem, under direct UN administration.
        *http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/un/unchart.htm#art81
        *http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/un/unchart.htm#art83

        It can establish, alter, or amend the terms of trusteeship agreements on behalf of the UN in accordance with Article 85 of the Charter. It has used that authority to partition and declare that other dependent territories had become independent states. For example, on 20 June, 1962 the UN General Assembly adopted a decision to accept a UN commission’s proposal to partition Ruanda-Urundi into two independent states, Rwanda and Burundi. Those actions paralleled the steps taken earlier by the UNSCOP commission and the General Assembly in the case of Palestine.
        *http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/un/unchart.htm#art85

        The League of Nations “Mandates” were simply resolutions of the Council of the League of Nations. In the Article 3, paragraph 2, of the Treaty of Lausanne case the Permanent Court of International Justice ruled that the Councils resolutions were mere recommendations, but that parties became bound by the terms once they accepted them. See printed page 27 of Series B Advisory Opinion No. 12 link to icj-cij.org

        The General Assembly has acknowledged declarations supplied by both Israel and Palestine as being in line with the requirements contained in resolution 181(II). It specifically required the new states to acknowledge their undertakings by making a declaration. See resolutions 273/3; 43/177;

        The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel said

        On the 29th November, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel; the General Assembly required the inhabitants of Eretz-Israel to take such steps as were necessary on their part for the implementation of that resolution.

        http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/Declaration+of+Establishment+of+State+of+Israel.htm

        The 1988 PLO Algiers Declaration of the State of Palestine noted that historical injustice done to the Palestinian Arab people in its displacement and in being deprived of the right to self-determination following the adoption of General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 1947, but acknowledged that the resolution partitioned Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish State, and that the resolution continues to attach conditions to international legitimacy that guarantee the Palestinian Arab people the right to sovereignty and national independence.
        *http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/6EB54A389E2DA6C6852560DE0070E392

        UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/48/158D, 20 December 1993 stipulated that the final settlement had to guarantee arrangements for peace and security of all States in the region, including those named in resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, within secure and internationally recognized boundaries. — http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/48/158

        The General Assembly’s request for an advisory opinion in 2004 cited the resolution 181 among the relevant UN resolutions and the Court ruled that the permanent responsibility of the United Nations for the Question of Palestine has its origin in the Mandate and the Partition Resolution concerning Palestine. It noted that an entire chapter of resolution 181 was devoted to safeguards for the existing rights of the Palestinian people. See paragraphs 1, 49, and 129. http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1671.pdf

        The UN considers the minority rights declarations it has obtained after WWII to be legally binding agreements that are still in force. Resolution 181(II) was cataloged in 1950 as part of a survey of legal instruments containing minority protection treaties E/CN.4/367, Date: 7 April 1950 (see Chapter III The United Nations Charter And The Treaties Concluded After The War, resolution 181(II) of 29 November 1947, “The Future Government of Palestine”, pages 22-23). Resolution 181(II) is also cited in the “Table of Treaties” in Thomas D. Musgrave, Self-determination and National Minorities, Oxford Monographs in International Law, Oxford University Press, 1997, ISBN 0198298986, Page xxxviii

        The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People reported to the Security Council that:

        19. In this respect, it was pointed out that Israel was under binding obligation to permit the return of all the Palestinian refugees displaced as a result of the hostilities of 1948 and 1967. This obligation flowed from the unreserved agreement by Israel to honour its commitments under the Charter of the United Nations, and from its specific undertaking, when applying for membership of the United Nations, to implement General Assembly resolutions 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, safeguarding the rights of the Palestinian Arabs inside Israel, and 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, concerning the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes or to choose compensation for their property. This undertaking was also clearly reflected in General Assembly resolution 273 (III).

        So if you think its non-binding go argue with the UN.

      • Roya
        July 12, 2012, 9:15 pm

        Hostage, I don’t have to argue with the UN because the UN itself recognizes that UN General Assembly resolutions are non-binding. This is directly from the UN website: While the Assembly is empowered to make only non-binding recommendations to States on international issues within its competence, it has, nonetheless, initiated actions—political, economic, humanitarian, social and legal—which have affected the lives of millions of people throughout the world.

        And here are the powers of the GA, according to the UN Charter. You will notice that ‘the power to create states’ is not listed among them:

        Consider and make recommendations on the general principles of cooperation for maintaining international peace and security, including disarmament;
        Discuss any question relating to international peace and security and, except where a dispute or situation is currently being discussed by the Security Council, make recommendations on it;
        Discuss, with the same exception, and make recommendations on any questions within the scope of the Charter or affecting the powers and functions of any organ of the United Nations;
        Initiate studies and make recommendations to promote international political cooperation, the development and codification of international law, the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and international collaboration in the economic, social, humanitarian, cultural, educational and health fields;
        Make recommendations for the peaceful settlement of any situation that might impair friendly relations among nations;
        Receive and consider reports from the Security Council and other United Nations organs;
        Consider and approve the United Nations budget and establish the financial assessments of Member States;
        Elect the non-permanent members of the Security Council and the members of other United Nations councils and organs and, on the recommendation of the Security Council, appoint the Secretary-General.

        Nonetheless, even if the UN GA did have the power to create states, and if its resolutions were binding, Israel’s borders would be limited to those described in Resolution 181, so we would be talking in the context of the ’48 borders and not the ’67 borders for a two-state solution.

      • Hostage
        July 13, 2012, 3:21 pm

        This is directly from the UN website: While the Assembly is empowered to make only non-binding recommendations to States on international issues within its competence, it has, nonetheless, initiated actions—political, economic, humanitarian, social and legal—which have affected the lives of millions of people throughout the world.

        Article 81 of the Charter of the United Nations granted the General Assembly the power to conclude the terms of trusteeship agreements that placed territories under the direct administration of the United Nations. Under the existing laws of the US and many other countries, mandates and trusteeships were treated as separate foreign states. So the power to create, partition, or emancipate a trusteeship was the power to create states like Burundi and Rwanda. See the definition of “foreign state” in U.S. Title 8, Chapter 12, § 1101. “Definitions”

        The webpages and rulings at the UN’s International Court of Justice in the Hague (that I cited above) reject the argument contained on the General Assembly webpage that you cited. The Court ruled that, on the contrary, the General Assembly’s powers are not limited to making non-binding recommendations in its resolutions.

        For example, France and the Soviet Union used that argument in an attempt to avoid paying their assessments for the costs of the UNEF peacekeeping force that the General Assembly established in the Sinai during its first Emergency Special Session, e.g. http://www.un.org/en/ga/sessions/emergency.shtml

        They argued that the Assembly had acted beyond its powers and functions under the Charter in authorizing the deployment. South Africa also argued that the General Assembly could not make a legally binding decision regarding a League of Nations mandated territory, but the Court disagreed. Here are some relevant extracts:

        “the functions and powers conferred by the Charter on the General Assembly are not confined to discussion, consideration, the initiation of studies and the making of recommendations; they are not merely hortatory. Article 18 deals with “decisions” of the General Assembly “on important questions”. These “decisions” do indeed include certain recommendations, but the others have dispositive force and effect. Among these latter decisions, Article 18 includes suspension of rjghts and privileges of membership, expulsion of Members, “and budgetary questions”.

        – See printed pages 163-64 (pdf file page 29-30) of Certain Expenses of the United Nations (Article 17, paragraph 2, of the Charter).
        *link to icj-cij.org

        Of course article 18 applies to any question, not just those mentioned above. The late ICJ President Taslim Olawale Elias took an even more strident position about the legal effects of General Assembly recommendations. He said it seems clear that, as far as General Assembly recommendations in respect of the nine specifically enumerated matters in Article 18(2) are concerned, its “decisions” in the form of “recommendations” are binding upon all once a draft resolution is adopted by a two thirds majority and that a decision on any other important question can be adopted by a simple majority. So the decisions it adopted to establish a Corpus Seperatum and approve the terms of the draft Statute of the City of Jerusalem, that it had requested from the Trusteeship Council, are specifically enumerated powers of the Assembly for placing a territory under direct UN administration. They are spelled-out in articles 18, 81, 85, 86 and 87 of the UN Charter – which is a legally binding multilateral treaty.

        In the South West Africa/Nambia cases the Court said that:

        the General Assembly declared that the Mandate having been terminated “South Africa has no other right to administer the Territory”. This is not a finding on facts, but the formulation of a legal situation [i.e. laying down the law]. For it would not be correct to assume that, because the General Assembly is in principle vested with recommendatory powers, it is debarred from adopting, in specific cases within the framework of its competence, resolutions which make determinations or have operative design.

      • Mooser
        July 10, 2012, 2:49 pm

        “And their goal has to include recognition of Israel.”

        Gee, I think the supporter of BDS recognise good and goddam well what Israel is. Too bad Finklestein has decided to stop “recognising Israel”
        Actually a very ironic phrase coming from him, I can’t help thinking.

    • Sibiriak
      July 8, 2012, 8:39 am

      Finkelstein’s prescription for change involves a new non-violent Palestinian intifada combined with international support, both popular and governmental, and he believes that international support requires an appeal to international law. International law recognizes Israel as a state, therefore, Finkelstien argues, so should BDS.

      Norman Finkelstein:

      http://mondoweiss.net/2012/06/a-debate-about-the-two-state-solution-with-norman-finkelstein.html

      “We are now at a crossroads in the conflict. I truly believe it is possible—not certain, not even probable, but still possible—that we can achieve a reasonable settlement within the two-state framework. But achieving this goal will require a maximum of political clarity and a vastly reduced amount of sloganeering.

      The only possibility for creating a real peace process, and not the sham of the past 20 years, is to mobilize the Palestinians’ most potent asset—i.e., the population itself—in a nonviolent grassroots struggle along the lines of the first intifada. The succession of practical victories won by the Palestinian hunger strikers (with relatively little concrete support from the Palestinian population) again demonstrated the efficacy of this strategy.

      B. The question then becomes, if and when such a grassroots movement takes flight, what will be its goal? Here I think the answer is practical-political, not abstract-moral. Even an invigorated grassroots movement cannot possibly succeed unless it wins the backing of international public opinion, both popular and governmental. In the absence of such broad public support, Israel will have carte blanche to crush Palestinian resistance, however nonviolent.”

  12. anan
    July 7, 2012, 4:18 pm

    Ash, I 100% disagree with your article. Lay off Norman Finkelstein.

    BDS is wrong for many reasons. Among them:
    1) it hurts the 23% of Israelis that are of non Jewish Palestinian descent
    2) it hurts Jewish Arabs . . . a majority of Israelis have Arab ancestry (Arab Jews or non Jewish Arabs)
    3) collective punishment against non Arab Israelis, many of which are good people
    4) hurts the Gazan and West Bank economies which are deeply interdependent with Israel

    I have long believed that secretly many BDS people are viscerally anti Palestinian. Am I wrong?

    Norman Finkelstein strikes me as pro Palestinians (not that I know him that well.) Good for him. Everyone should ask themselves how pro Palestinian they are?

    • Talkback
      July 8, 2012, 3:49 am

      “BDS is wrong for many reasons. Among them:”

      And then a list of pseudo arguments follows, we allready know from supporters of South Africa’s Apartheid.

      “I have long believed that secretly many BDS people are viscerally anti Palestinian. Am I wrong?”

      You’re not very good at masquerading, am I wrong?

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 8, 2012, 4:48 am

        “You’re not very good at masquerading, am I wrong?”
        Sigh*. You could not be closer to the truth Talkback. One can’t be arguing with anan for long because he, allegedly, has Palestinians’ interest at heart. We’re hurting them. We have to “convince the Israelis to do good by the Palestinians. That’s the only way” (his words).

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 8, 2012, 5:03 am

        Anan, would you have opposed BDS in regards to Apartheid South Africa too? After all, The Black population could have been “hurt” by it too since both Blacks and Afrikaans had interdependent economies.

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 8, 2012, 5:15 am

        “I have long believed that secretly many BDS people are viscerally anti Palestinian. Am I wrong?”
        What do you mean by “long believed”? A year or so ago you have confessed to not knowing much about the conflict and that you were on blogs to learn. You couldn’t have learned enough in such a short time in order to make a judgement on such actions as BDS.

      • Sumud
        July 8, 2012, 12:12 pm

        TGIA ~ I think RW is back on MW masquerading under the name ‘anan’. I recognise some of the convoluted logic, and I’m not convinced by anan’s persona. It does’t add up.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 8, 2012, 12:26 pm

        i agree. it’s all threadjack material, witty specialty.

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 8, 2012, 11:06 pm

        No Sumud. I know anan well enough. He was a regular on my blog before he was banned. He was driving everyone crazy with his irrelevant, very lengthy blabberings. Non-sequitur is what best he’s known for. Nothing to do with RW, a rather intelligent albeit convoluted individual. Anan is a different beast altogether. A toxic mix of ignorance, stupidity and a good dose of autism. Not joking.

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 8, 2012, 11:24 pm

        Annie, I can assure you he’s not. I had the misfortune of exchanging emails with him before I asked him to stop. Not RW by any stretch of the imagination. One thing I can safely say is that if he is to continue being welcome on this site everyone in a few weeks time will be gone insane because not sure what to make of this irrational creature.

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 8, 2012, 11:41 pm

        Not sure if VR is still around but he too knows anan inside out.

      • Sumud
        July 9, 2012, 11:01 am

        OK thnx TGIA.

      • Mooser
        July 10, 2012, 2:53 pm

        Well, unless Witty is smarter than he’s ever been, won’t we find that Witty and “Anan” have the same IP address? (That’s not definitive proof, but it’s a darn good indication) Should be simple to determine.

    • Avi_G.
      July 8, 2012, 3:50 am

      BDS is wrong for many reasons. Among them:
      1) it hurts the 23% of Israelis that are of non Jewish Palestinian descent

      False. What hurts that minority are Israel’s 65-year-old policies of discrimination, disenfranchisement and cultural and intellectual oppression.

      That is why many Palestinians from Israel still go to the occupied West Bank to do their shopping.

      2) it hurts Jewish Arabs . . . a majority of Israelis have Arab ancestry (Arab Jews or non Jewish Arabs)

      In today’s Israeli society, there is no such thing as “Jewish Arabs”. The “Arab” part of it was forcefully erased in the 1950s when many of the Mizrahi Jews came to Israel.

      Israel even had a program where it took children away despite their parents’ refusal and put those children at various kibbutzim where they underwent a process of “Re-Culturalization”.

      Today’s Israeli society is made up of two blocs, Jews and Palestinians.

      3) collective punishment against non Arab Israelis, many of which are good people

      First you feign concern for “Arabs” and then you go on to claim that the collective punishment is against non-Arab Israelis. You need to make up your mind about which cockamamie reasoning you wish to peddle.

      4) hurts the Gazan and West Bank economies which are deeply interdependent with Israel

      There is nothing like smug, ludicrous claims to make you look like an absolute idiot and a clown. You’re pathetic.

      I have long believed that secretly many BDS people are viscerally anti Palestinian. Am I wrong?

      Children like you should not be awake at this hour.

    • Roya
      July 8, 2012, 4:30 am

      “I have long believed that secretly many BDS people are viscerally anti Palestinian. Am I wrong?”

      Yes, you are wrong. Good of you to check though, it’d be terrible if you just lived in your own construction of reality.

      • ColinWright
        July 8, 2012, 4:24 pm

        How could most of us be ‘viscerally anti-Palestinian’ in the first place? We live in Palestinian neighborhoods?

        It’d be like being ‘viscerally anti-Tibetan,’ I’ve known one Tibetan in my life — and I really am capable of refraining from making generalizations based on a sample of one.

    • ColinWright
      July 8, 2012, 4:36 pm

      Anan’s hypocrisy is sickening. All for the Palestinians recovering their homeland, are you Anan?

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 8, 2012, 11:00 pm

        This site doesn’t know yet what is hitting it. This is the most insane and surrealistic character that has ever touched a keyboard. Qui vivera verra.

      • Roya
        July 9, 2012, 4:08 am

        @atheist LOL!

  13. anan
    July 7, 2012, 4:19 pm

    Only a true of friend of both the Israelis and Palestinians can achieve justice and peace for both peoples.

    Erdogan opposes BDS and supports greater Turkish trade and investment with Israel. Is he wrong?

    • ColinWright
      July 8, 2012, 4:49 pm

      Spare me from ‘true friends’ like you. At least you’re not trying to sell me a used car.

    • Roya
      July 9, 2012, 3:27 am

      Tell me Anan, how many Palestinian friends do you have? A bajillion, right?

      • Mooser
        July 10, 2012, 2:55 pm

        “Tell me Anan, how many Palestinian friends do you have? A bajillion, right?”

        No, not a “bajillion”, but some of his best friends are….

  14. Roya
    July 7, 2012, 5:17 pm

    Wonder if Finkelstein also thought that the boycott movement against South Africa was a “hypocritical, dishonest cult.”

    • Boycott Israel on Campus
      July 8, 2012, 9:52 am

      Exactly, Roya.

    • ColinWright
      July 9, 2012, 2:32 am

      Note that it was quite alright to call for an end to White rule in South Africa.

      However, in most circles it is still not alright to call for an end to Jewish rule in Palestine. Norm can be taken to be insisting that Jewish rule — or at least Jewish security — in Palestine must be recognized as a goal. I don’t recall anyone demanding that the anti-apartheid movement tailor its demands to ensure the continued safety and security of the White population in South Africa.

      There was just to be complete political and civil equality. No more White rule. Full stop. Yet for some reason, it is ‘hypocritical’ to make the same demand when it comes to Jewish rule in Palestine.

      • Roya
        July 9, 2012, 4:20 am

        Absolutely, Colin. Almost every pro-divestment person that spoke at the Presbyterian conference prefaced their statements with, “I love Israel and of course I wholeheartedly believe we should do everything in our power to maintain secure borders for Israel as well as its sovereignty.” Which translates to, “We should keep the status quo in Israel because there’s nothing wrong with the Zionist regime other than their isolated and unquenchable thirst for the destruction of Palestinian homes.” I’m not sure if these people were saying this because they actually believed it or because they didn’t want to sound too ‘radical.’

      • Hostage
        July 9, 2012, 1:35 pm

        Norm can be taken to be insisting that Jewish rule — or at least Jewish security — in Palestine must be recognized as a goal.

        There is a link in the main article to an interview that contains this statement:

        Dr. Finkelstein: Yes, that’s one important angle. It is not required of Palestinians, nor should they (in my opinion), recognize Israel as a Jewish state or even a Jewish-majority state. I also see no reason why one wouldn’t want to call for full and equal rights for Palestinians inside Israel, although the international consensus does not speak to this issue. However, what one can’t do, in my opinion, is deny the existence of Israel as a state—because such a denial has no basis in law, and in fact constitutes a fundamental breach of it.

  15. chinese box
    July 7, 2012, 5:46 pm

    OK, maybe I need to modify my post (above). 2ss could be done through the law/UN, but it needs a driving force like BDS to get it there. The US and Israel aren’t going to just decide to do the right thing on their own without a lot of prodding. As with the Vietnam War there’s probably going to have to be a lot of “uncomfortability”, hurt feelings, etc. on the part of a lot of people before this gets resolved.

    • Roya
      July 9, 2012, 3:28 am

      UN GA already tried a 2ss. It was called the Partition Plan. Not that the GA had any moral or legal rights to give away somebody else’s land.

  16. piotr
    July 7, 2012, 6:50 pm

    Norman is a fine, fine person but he is an extremist by nature. He does not “go ballistic”, he stays ballistic. He may have a heart of gold, but is it a good joke:

    “Alan Dershowitz’s out-of-wedlock son (with Joan Rivers) reportedly suffering from degenerative brain disorder”

    This is about a person who gave an interview to ynet.com, and as a Muslim converted to Truth, praised Dershowitz (but not Rivers) for his personal illumination. Some sarcasm is in place. Even so.

    Comparatively, being called a “cult” means that there exists a tiny disagreement, and one unforgivable sin: not appreciating the wisdom of Norman Finkelstein, after all miracles he have shown us. (Reference to miracles refers to Jesus Christ who got really annoyed at some point.)

  17. Rachel_Roberts
    July 8, 2012, 12:20 am

    To the first point, I have never understood why Zionists find it to be so cogent that Omar Barghouti attends Tel Aviv university. Colonizers have always allowed some members of the colonized indigenous to succeed within narrow confines and up to a certain point. Heck, how do they think Gandhi got a law degree? Or Mandela for that matter? Omar Barghouti, rather than choosing to accept the meager rewards granted by Israel to a section of people who come from origins like his, chose to risk his professional career and possibly sacrifice it to stand up for the rights of those who would never get to reach that glass ceiling, only because they were born Palestinian and for no other reason. It’s apartheid, people. And it’s time to boycott.

  18. dbroncos
    July 8, 2012, 1:18 am

    An excellent post. Finklstein is on some thin ice. If he thoroughly alienates a BDS movement that much of his scholarship implicitly supports and played a part in creating, he will be out in the cold. His life’s work gone for naught in terms of finally enjoying some reward, in the company of his fellow travellers, for struggling against the hydra-headed Zionist monster. Maybe that’s what he wants. To be out in the cold. Some people are self destructive in that way. Who really knows…

  19. YoungMassJew
    July 8, 2012, 1:39 am

    Speaking of BDS, I was thinking that perhaps the only way to deal with these companies to change their behavior is through public shaming. This is what one of the commentators here talked about some time ago with Zionism in general. Look Sodastream’s market cap, at least according to Wikipedia, is up to $1.46 billion. How am I going to convince people and chain stores not to stock their shelves with the crap from a company that just went public. It’s like trying to convince people not to buy IPODS because the workers kill themselves from making the products. People don’t care. They just want s**t made cheap. When push comes to shove and my actions, specifically my letter (that was deleted by the nice moderators) becomes news and they start going after me I should give them an ultimatium. I’ll say look. You can either have your company make your soda run by Palestinians (i.e. change the ownership) and have Jews and Arabs work under the same conditions, such as the Jewish workers needing permission from the Palestinian owners to work and subject them to invasive screening and allow their work permits to be revoked anytime and if this doesn’t work, unleash a complete boycott BDS style on the company. Put them on the spot and give them a choice to change their barbaric behavior by exposing their unpresedented criminal activity, as well as their hoax of labeling their sodas being made in one location when it’s really in another location, for the whole world to see. It’s going to be big.

  20. Shmuel
    July 8, 2012, 4:51 am

    Thanks, Gabriel. Some of Finkelstein’s criticism of BDS has been worth discussing, but such (tired) smears and disinformation would seem to indicate that there is something more to the “cult” campaign than a desire for pragmatism and consistency.

    Aside: Are you sure that Barghouti is a citizen of Israel? In his book, he refers to himself as carrying an “Israeli ID”, but does not mention his nationality. If he is not a citizen, studying abroad could also jeopardise his residency status.

  21. Boycott Israel on Campus
    July 8, 2012, 9:56 am

    Who cares what Finkelstein thinks or says?

    Right now, we have a ten-year campaign for BDS that has only occasionally been led by Palestinians, only occasionally led by Arabs at all.

    The white “progressive” types have hyped themselves up on fear of Zionists, so they tip-toe agonizingly around total boycott of Israel.

    Arabs are simply terrified of the Zionists, and can almost never bring themselves to voice their righteous rejection of the Zionist state.

    So who is willing to march into public forums and demand total BDS against Israel?

    Who?

    • American
      July 8, 2012, 12:47 pm

      I am.
      I think the entire country should be sanctioned and embargoed.
      Now…the ‘only’ way I would not be for that….is if…the US outlawed it’s own policy of using sanctions against ‘any’ other country as well.
      However, as long as we employ it against other countries we should impose it on Israel also.

    • ColinWright
      July 8, 2012, 9:11 pm

      Yeah. I remember that when there were demonstrations against ‘Cast Lead’ in San Francisco, there were the usual suspects — the cast that took me back to my puppy years in Berkeley, only everyone was older and greyer.

      But then there was also this rather large contingent of what were obviously nice suburban children — only Palestinian.

      If this movement is really going to go, those people need to be encouraged to mobilize and act — and act on the agenda they want, not the one all the White liberals think they should have. Let the Palestinians say what they think is a just settlement, and how far they should go.

    • Mooser
      July 10, 2012, 3:04 pm

      “So who is willing to march into public forums and demand total BDS against Israel?”

      Frankly, unless we wish to hand our religion and culture over to gangsters once and for all, and throw away all the gains that have been made in Jew-Gentile harmony, it’s up to us Jews. But then again you can’t sell your religion or your culture for something to eat or a place to build a house on free land. (Or better still transfer the land to your organisation, and parcel it up and sell it.)

  22. Donald
    July 8, 2012, 1:22 pm

    I can’t defend some of Finkelstein’s comments–his personality seems to be the sort that just throws bombs and goes for the jugular when he disagrees with someone and he can go too far even when on the merits of an issue he is right. Piotr gave an example of this above. I’m not saying he’s right here, but I’d say one should just treat his more inflammatory statements with some mixture of eye-rolling and disgust and then go on to look at the substance of his claims.

    But I think if you strip away the nastier parts he might have a point about international law and how one can’t (or shouldn’t) pick and choose if you choose to base your case on international law. The Democracy Now interview seemed a little less inflammatory–

    link

    • Donald
      July 8, 2012, 1:34 pm

      Slightly tangential, but on the subject of international law and how it is inconsistently applied, the NYT actually carried a decent article on the subject today. Much better than I expected–they actually mentioned Israel in Gaza and America’s own war crimes as examples of things that are unlikely to be investigated because of political pressures. The emphasis was elsewhere, but at least Israel and the US were mentioned.

      link

      I bring that up because Palestinians might decide they don’t necessarily want to base their entire case on international law if they think they can do better by appealing to people’s sense of basic fairness rather than invoking this or that UN resolution or court ruling.

  23. The Hasbara Buster
    July 8, 2012, 10:42 pm

    The words Finkelstein once directed at Cristopher Hitchens now apply to himself:

    If apostasy weren’t conditioned by power considerations, one would anticipate roughly equal movements in both directions. But that’s never been the case. The would-be apostate almost always pulls towards power’s magnetic field, rarely away. However elaborate the testimonials on how one came to “see the light,” the impetus behind political apostasy is – pardon my cynicism – a fairly straightforward, uncomplicated affair: to cash in, or keep cashing in, on earthly pleasures.

    • Sibiriak
      July 9, 2012, 5:38 am

      More ad hominem attacks on Finkelstein. How about addressing the logic of his arguments as well?

      • Shmuel
        July 9, 2012, 6:03 am

        Sibiriak,

        The merits of Finkelstein’s arguments against BDS and in favour of a 2ss have been discussed extensively and, for the most part, respectfully, on numerous threads at MW (you can check the archives). The problem with the points highlighted by Gabriel in this particular interview is that they are hard to explain as anything but smears and disinformation.

        So yes, there may be problems with the stated goals of BDS and with the predilection for a single state professed by some of the movement’s most prominent leaders, and the “cult” remark can be dismissed as the heated rhetoric of someone who has lived and breathed the Palestinian cause for decades, but deliberate defamation (NF is too smart and analytical to actually believe the weak and tired smears Gabriel easily refutes above)? What gives?

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 6:38 am

        Shmuel,

        I’ve read through all the threads, top to bottom, on this topic.

        I my view, charges of “smears and disinformation” seem exaggerated. I can’t help but view them as a way to avoid dealing with the Finkelstein’s core arguments. I could be wrong, though!

        There do seem to be a lot of posts attacking Finkelstein for selling out, re-inventing himself, abasing himself, giving into the lures of power and privilege, revealing his true tribal colors, and so on.

        My question is this: has Finkelstein ever NOT supported a 2SS? Has he ever taken a different view of international law regarding the existence of the Israeli state etc.? In other words, has he changed his positions in any fundamental way?

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 6:59 am

        Ash writes: “By this stage, I find it unavoidable to conclude that Finkelstein is engaged in a politically motivated campaign of disinformation aimed at destroying BDS, rather than any form of conscientious, informed criticism of it.”

        At this stage, I’m NOT able to jump to such an extreme conclusion. Intemperate remarks, mistaken views, inaccuracies, falsehoods–okay–but that doesn’t necessarily amount to a “politically motivated campaign of disinformation”.

        What is the alleged political motivation, and where is the proof of such motivation? I don’t think it is sufficient to simply *deduce* such motivation: “Finkelstein is too smart–he MUST be engaged in deliberate misinformation”. That’s not good enough, imo.

        In any case, it all seems like a grand distraction from the fundamental issues Finkelstein has raised.

      • Shmuel
        July 9, 2012, 7:06 am

        Sibiriak,

        I was thinking of this discussion, in particular: http://mondoweiss.net/2012/02/norman-finkelstein-slams-the-bds-movement-calling-it-a-cult.html

        I think the substance of NF’s arguments has been addressed at length in that and other threads.

        NF’s criticism of Barghouti for studying at TAU (even if there were something to it) is a cheap “tu quoque” argument; the criticism regarding Barenboim is factually incorrect; and the criticism regarding Five Broken Cameras is a misrepresentation of PACBI policy. You think “smears and defamation” is too strong? I give NF more credit than that, which makes me wonder what’s going on, why he’s declared war (all’s fair) on BDS.

        I don’t think your question regarding NF’s 2s-consistency is relevant. His legitimate criticism of BDS and the 1ss has been addressed. Smears against an important component of the Palestinian struggle are another story.

      • Shmuel
        July 9, 2012, 7:18 am

        In any case, it all seems like a grand distraction from the fundamental issues Finkelstein has raised.

        I agree, and it is Finkelstein himself who has created this distraction with attacks that go beyond mere intemperance (in itself a poor way to get an argument across). So, once again, I ask: Why did he go about raising such important issues in such a belligerent fashion (“cult”), and why did he not take a step back after the initial reaction and tone things down, rather than engaging in personal attacks and misrepresentations?

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 7:26 am

        Shmuel,

        I have no way to answer those questions, of course. If you wish to speculate, that’s your choice. Just doesn’t seem like a worthwhile endeavor. YMMV.

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 7:36 am

        “I don’t think your question regarding NF’s 2s-consistency is relevant.”

        If he has consistently maintained his positions, how can it be that he has suddenly “sold out”–an allegation made various times, in different ways, in this thread?

        “NF’s criticism of Barghouti for studying at TAU (even if there were something to it) is a cheap “tu quoque” argument; the criticism regarding Barenboim is factually incorrect; and the criticism regarding Five Broken Cameras is a misrepresentation of PACBI policy. ”

        A cheap shot, a factual inaccuracy, and a misrepresentation of PACBI policy don’t quite amount, in my view, to a “politically motivated campaign of disinformation”. That just seems a bit hyperbolic to me.

      • Sibiriak
        July 9, 2012, 7:47 am

        “His legitimate criticism of BDS and the 1ss has been addressed. ”

        I’m seeing Finklestein’s illegitimate criticism of BDS being used to discredit his legitimate criticism of BDS. Those two elements are not being kept so separate as you suggest, imo.

      • Donald
        July 9, 2012, 11:16 am

        “A cheap shot, a factual inaccuracy, and a misrepresentation of PACBI policy don’t quite amount, in my view, to a “politically motivated campaign of disinformation”. That just seems a bit hyperbolic to me.”

        I agree with this. Finkelstein has always engaged in over-the-top rhetoric even on issues where he is completely right and shouldn’t need to do so or at least that’s how he’s always struck me. So it’s not surprising that when he has criticisms of BDS he sticks to his usual pattern.

        Sometimes a person acting like a jerk is just a person acting like a jerk.

        I also agree it’d be a bit more useful to express disgust at Finkelstein where he is dishonest or nasty and then focus on the substance. In the end Finkelstein’s role in the I/P conflict is (probably) mostly behind him. He’s been a good historian/chronicler of Israeli crimes, but whether or not he’s a good activist now doesn’t matter. But he might be raising important issues (if you scrape away the characteristic Finkelstein bile).

  24. Charon
    July 9, 2012, 12:59 am

    I’ll always like Finkelstein, even when I disagree with him. Just remember that confirmation bias is a negative thing.

  25. ColinWright
    July 11, 2012, 4:15 am

    At a guess, Finkelstein has a bit of a martyr complex. He wants to be the guy who tells everyone things they don’t want to hear. I can relate.

    Looked at in this way, his sudden denunciations of BDS are a good sign. The anti-Israel bandwagon is starting to pick up riders, and it makes him nervous.

    He wants to be alone — and he’s not any more. People are horning in on ‘his’ cause.

  26. ColinWright
    July 11, 2012, 4:30 am

    On the other hand, if Finkelstein is able to distinguish between his own career as professional martyr and the actual merits of the cause he espouses, then this criticism does seem a bit irresponsible.

    I mean, if I want to stop the city from opening a dump by my house, I don’t go about it by vociferously attacking everyone who’s shown up at the planning meeting with me to object.

    The question it immediately raises in my mind is does Finkelstein actually want to see the situation in Palestine change — or is he just interested in continuing ‘Finkelstein’s wild ride’? Not all the criticisms he’s making of BDS seem either substantial or particularly well-founded. It seems more like an exhibition of petulant egoism than anything else.

  27. Sibiriak
    July 11, 2012, 8:37 am

    “Not all the criticisms he’s making of BDS seem either substantial or particularly well-founded.”

    Meaning many are.

    • ColinWright
      July 13, 2012, 2:51 am

      ““Not all the criticisms he’s making of BDS seem either substantial or particularly well-founded.”

      Meaning many are.”

      Actually, merely meaning I’m not interested enough to look into it in enough detail to make a more sweeping statement. It’s perfectly possible none of Finkelstein’s criticisms are substantial or well-founded. However, I wouldn’t know.

      • Sibiriak
        July 13, 2012, 4:54 am

        ColinWright,

        If it is quite possible that many of Finkelstein’s criticisms are substantial and well-founded, as you suggest, why wouldn’t you be interested in looking into them?

  28. anan
    July 14, 2012, 2:43 pm

    184 comments!!! Sorry I haven’t read them all.

    Really, many of you are too mean to Finkelstein. He is pro Palestinian. Learn from him. Respect him.

    I learned a lot in recent days by reading his writings and watching him on you tube.

    He isn’t against “right of return” as defined by international law. Rather Finkelstein is saying that “right of return” can be satisfied with financial payments that need to be made. This I agree with.

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